Jim LaRue
1925 - 2015
East Lawn Palms Mortuary
5801 East Grant Road
Tucson, AZ
"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.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Apr. 3, 2015.
Christ Church United Methodist
655 North Craycroft Road, UT
Celebration of Life
Tucson Botanical Gardens
2150 North Alvernon Way, UT
East Lawn Palms Mortuary
5801 East Grant Road, UT
Funeral services provided by:
East Lawn Palms Mortuary
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15 Entries
Words could never say how much Jum and Betty meant to me. I still think of them often, as they were my second parents. I can’t wait to see them when we are all gathered together by the Great Shepherd Himself, the Lord Jesus!
Duff Riwxen
March 27, 2021
It's hard to believe it has already been four years since Jim passed away! I will never forget his inspiring memorial service; the outpouring of gratitude from all those big men who knew him as their coach and mentor for life. We learned there that he was a man who is appreciated not only for his amazing accomplishments, but for his unswerving respect of EVERYONE else, no matter how high or low their job status may have been. Thank you LaRue family for sharing this giant of a man with all of us. I can't wait to see "Uncle Jim and Aunt Betty" up in Heaven!
Duff Rowden
March 27, 2019
My Uncle Jim was very important in my life. When he was coaching at the University of Utah in the 1970's he let me stay with he and my Aunt Betty and cousins when I started attending the U until I could get my own place. He was always a kind and generous giving person who will be missed particularly by family.
Howard Johnson
April 7, 2015
I will miss my Uncle Jim and his many wonderful stories. My dad still wears the Chicago Bears jacket, that Jim gave him, every day and tells everyone about Jim, he was so proud of him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Linda Johnson
April 6, 2015
My Uncle Jim was very important in my life. When he was coaching at the University of Utah in the 1970's he let me stay with he and my Aunt Betty and cousins when I started attending the U until I could get my own place. He was always a kind and generous giving person who will be missed particularly by family.
April 6, 2015
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine....c'mon Jim, sing along with me like you always did...You make me happy..."
Millie Tuckman
April 5, 2015
Dear LaRue Family,
It was with great sorrow we learned of Coach LaRue"s passing. He was a most respected coach during his time at Wake Forest. Honest, fair, intelligent with great integrity. He touched us all, and we are all better given his influence. We remember him fondly. May he rest in peace!
Terry Giblin '77
Wake Forest University
Terry Giblin
April 4, 2015
Dear LaRue family.
Your dad was such an important part of the Bears defense, a great complement to Buddy Ryan and the rest of the staff. I know Doug Plank will be attending the service and wish I could be there as well. I enjoyed going through the photos and wished I had asked your Dad more about his WWII experiences and his coaching career before joining the Bears.

Best Wishes

Gary Fencik
Gary Fencik
April 4, 2015
Coach LaRue was my first contact with Utah football as he recruited me from Sahuaro High in Tucson. He and one of his UA players, Howard Brienig, were great influences on me. That's a double impact from a great man. I am grateful. Dave Dahl
April 3, 2015
Tom, Judy and Jill
Your dad had such an encouraging impact on me. We grew up in a close knit neighborhood. Your mom and dad always extended kindness. God's Best. There reward is being together in heaven.
Tucson in the 60's
Jim Otto
Houston, Texas
April 3, 2015
Dear La Rue Family. I played defense for Coach La Rue and was his Student Assistant for one year while he was the Defensive Coordinator at the University of Utah. I am saddened by his passing but happy he has graduated to eternal life. I Coach Basketball and frequently try to emulate his calm demeanor and wisdom. Coach La Rue's influence has been greater on me than any other Coach I have known. I will always be grateful for the affect he has had on my life, my Marriage and the lives of my sons.
Thank You Coach!
Mack Powell
April 3, 2015
Judy ...

I'm so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. He and your Mom were always so kind and welcoming to me. Such great, great people! Both of them, in their own way, built the foundation of where I am today! I'm so grateful for the seeds they planted in my life!

Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. When things settle a bit, I'd love to catch up with you ... it's been a LOT of years since we've talked!

-- Jenny (Crist) Young
April 3, 2015
I played at the "U" from 1971 to 1975. Coach LaRue was one of my favorite coaches. I can still hear him hollering at me....."Cole, stop thinking, and just do it!!!" He was a great man, and will be missed. My condolences to LaRue Family.
Chuck Cole
April 3, 2015
April 2, 2015
Thank you LaRue family for all you have done for me, how you welcomed me to live in your home as a kid, and for sharing your mom and dad with me. Just knowing you were all there was always a stabilizing factor in my life. My happiest childhood memories are when the Rowden kids and LaRue kids were on picnics together or at each other's houses making home-made ice cream and running barefoot through the neighborhood! To me, our dads were Superman and Captain America. I thought they were the two most awesome men in the world, and of course, the two greatest coaches! Thanks Uncle Jim for always doing the right thing no matter what the cost, and for always valuing the truly valuable. I Love you all! -Duff Rowden, San Juan Capistrano, CA
April 2, 2015
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