James L. Yerkovich
1943 ~ 2020
James Lin "Coach" Yerkovich was born January 4, 1943, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and died June 10, 2020, at home in Poulsbo, Washington. In his 77 years, he shaped the lives of numerous young people-as a parent, grandparent, mentor, and in his roles at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, where he was an educator, vice principal, and, most dear to him, basketball coach. Over the course of his 44 years of coaching, his boys' basketball teams recorded 634 wins, were state champions three times, and runners-up six times. But it wasn't all about the win for Coach. His biggest legacy as a coach is the number of his players who went on to become coaches themselves, embracing his "WE" coaching philosophy, which he laid out in his book "WE: a Model for Coaching and Christian Living". He inspired generations of young people to go out and do what he did, largely because of the positive impact he had on them as their coach.
As much as he loved basketball and all sports, it was his family that brought him his greatest joys. He traveled the world with his wife Betty, spending time every year in her home country of Australia, where he was loved by an extended Aussie family. Their nearly 30-year marriage was one defined by love, support, and care. They simply meant the world to each other, navigating life's ups and downs as a perfectly-matched team. His absence will be profound to Betty, who took extraordinary care of him as he battled Parkinson's disease. They had moved to Poulsbo, just outside of Seattle, in 2017, to be closer to family in the area and fully enjoy his retirement, living by the water. His children Noël, Mary Chris, and John (with his first wife Marilee), and his stepchildren with Betty-Matt, Chris, and Jackie-made him proud, as did his grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Nick, his mother, Emma, and his younger brother, Neil.
Jim's spirit will live on in his many friends, students, and players.
A memorial service will be planned in Salt Lake City at a later date, when it is safe for us to come together and celebrate Jim's life and legacy.
Published in The Salt Lake Tribune from Jun. 13 to Jun. 14, 2020.