James “Jim” B. McCoy, a retired teacher, World War II veteran, and long-time Eastside resident, died December 10, 2018 at his home in Bellevue following a severe stroke. He was 95.
Jim was born in late 1923 in Pike County, Ohio, to J. Harvey McCoy, a deputy auditor, and Genevieve Cofer, a school teacher. He graduated from Waverly High School, where he played trumpet in the band and guard on the basketball team. He received an athletic scholarship at Miami College, in Oxford, Ohio, but enlisted in the Air Force after Pearl Harbor. During basic training in Great Falls, Montana, he met Marian Hansen at a USO dance, fell in love, and gave her a diamond ring just before the Air Force sent him to Casablanca. Eventually, he was part of the Allied occupation of Italy. Following his discharge in 1946, he married Marian and the newlyweds started a family in Kirkland. With the GI bill he completed a BA in education at Seattle U.
For the next 30 years, Jim taught 5th and 6th grades at Collins and, later, Lakeview Elementary Schools in Kirkland. Raising seven children on a teacher’s pay was a challenge. Jim moonlighted by selling shoes, cleaning banks, and painting houses. Still he found time to serve on the Houghton Town Council, usher at Holy Family Church, and play poker with old college friends. He was a regular on tennis and pickleball courts into his 90s. And he only stopped fishing last summer.
Aside from playing sports, Jim was a big sports fan. He got rapturous recalling Elgin Baylor take the Chieftains to the 1958 NCAA basketball finals. His everyday apparel included Wazzu T-shirts, Ohio State Buckeye jackets, and Cincinnati Reds baseball caps. In his last years, he replaced his baseball cap with an embellished WWII veteran’s hat. He appreciated getting thanked for his service but especially welcomed the discounts the hat produced.
Following Marian’s death in 1993, Jim courted and married Alzera Todd, a widow whose late husband had been a best friend from SU days. He moved into her home in Redmond where they lived until taking up residence in 2015 at Sagebrook Senior Living in Bellevue.
Marriage to Alzera expanded Jim’s combined family to 16 children, their spouses, children and grandchildren. More than ever, his life became a round of birthday parties, wedding celebrations, anniversaries, and graduations at which he was the paterfamilias. He was a good sport, although there was hardly time for sports.
Jim drew comfort from his Catholic faith. He rarely missed Sunday Mass. He belonged to a men’s Scripture discussion group. And, at age 75, he and Alzera served as six-month mission volunteers at an orphanage on a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua. He regarded two things as vital in the end: “Prayer – and exercise.”
Jim is survived by his wife, Alzera; by daughters Genevieve (Paul), Mary (Dick), Cathy (Preston), Teresa (Kevin), Anne (Erick); by sons John (Karen) and Winky (Germaine); by eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and by Alzera’s nine children and their families.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 am, Saturday, January 5 at Holy Family Church in Kirkland.