Don James, former UW football coach, dies at 80

SEATTLE — For husky fans, the death of legendary coach Don James is a monumental loss.

“He’s Number one for me,” University of Washington alum Long Le said Saturday. “Unforgettable, you know.”

On Sunday, many Husky fans Don James fans made their way to Husky Stadium to take pictures, leave flowers and mourn the death of James, who dies Sunday after a battle with Pancreatic Cancer. Inside Alaska Airlines Arena, the UW girls’ volleyball game against Stanford there was a moment of silence in memory of Coach Don James.

James finished his coaching career at UW with a record of 153-58 and two ties in 18 seasons at the university. He also won six conference titles, a national title and a Rose Bowl.

“He was highly respected and friends of mine that played for him, loved the man and it’s a great loss, it’s a great loss,” fan Ron Millard said.

Many agreed, James could motivate and inspire better than most.

donjames“I think Don James is going to be missed more as an inspiration to team players and the larger Husky nation because he represented such a stellar time in Husky history,” fan Jud Marquardt said.

Word of James’ death spread quickly as did words of condolence.

UW head football coach Steve Sarkisian said:

“His accomplishments as a football coach stand alone, but what made him truly special is the quality of man he was away from the game. The guidance and leadership he instilled into this program and community is still felt today, and will continue to be felt here for a long, long time.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine wrote:

“Through old fashioned grit and an unwavering focus on the fundamentals, Coach James took a Husky program mired in mediocrity and made us National Champions.”

But James’ life wasn’t all about football.  He summited Mount Rainier, completed a marathon and even shot a hole in one.

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