"Gentleman Jim" LaRue, a truly authentic and loving father, grandfather, husband and friend, age 89, passed away 3/29/2015. The fifth of 7 children, Jim was born 8/11/1925 to Jessie B. and Fred E. LaRue in Clinton, OK where he spent most of his childhood years. Upon graduation from Clinton High School, where he was an All State football player, he joined the Navy who sent him to Carson Newman College. There he met his future wife of 60 years, Betty Jean Coleman. He earned his Navy Officer's Commission at Duke University. As a Blue Devils' halfback, his run set up the winning touchdown for Duke to beat Alabama 29-26 in the 1945 Sugar Bowl. Jim was called to active duty in Japan in 1945 and returned in 1947 to begin his long and successful career as a football coach. In 1959 Jim and Betty came to Tucson with their 3 children where he was the head football coach at the University of Arizona through the 1966 season. After coaching at several other universities they moved to Chicago in 1978 where Jim coached the defensive backfield of the Bears. Their 1985 defense was one of the best in NFL history and lead to a Bears victory in Super Bowl XX. He retired from the NFL in 1993 and returned to Tucson. Friends and family were most important to Jim. His genuine sincerity and interest in others were reflected in his belief that academics and athletics offered an opportunity for a better life. He valued character and commitment far more than any sports accolade. He has been a decades-long member of Christ Church United Methodist of Tucson. He was preceded in death by his parents, 5 siblings, his wife Betty, and grandson James. He is survived by his dear friend Millie Tuckman of Tucson, AZ, his brother Bob LaRue (Joan) of Tucson, AZ, 3 children and their spouses, Jill LaRue (Tom Ettinger) of Cashmere, WA, Judy LaRue McCarthy (Craig McCarthy) of Tucson, AZ, Tom LaRue (GaYoung Kim) of Okinawa, Japan, 5 grandchildren Jesse, Stephen, Connor, Alexa, and Mike, step-grandchildren Matt and Colleen, and a great-grandchild, James. We wish to express our gratitude to his dedicated friend and caregiver of many years, Rosie Navarro. Very special thanks for the lifelong devotion of Duff Rowden, and the enduring friendships of Eddie Wilson, Chuck Mills, and Ron Marciniak. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in his name to TMC Hospice. Services will be held April 6, 2015 1:00 PM at Christ Church United Methodist, 655 N. Craycroft Rd, to be followed by internment at 3:00 PM East Lawn Palms Mortuary, 5801 E. Grant Rd. A memorial reception and celebration of life will begin at 4:00 PM at Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.
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Published by Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Apr. 3, 2015.