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Former Texas HS football coach made lasting impressions on family, friends and players

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 9:55 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - In his 83 years of life, James Moffatt’s trek to become an unforgettable human being included football, gold medals, and mountain climbing.

But it was a photo of a girl in a friend’s school yearbook that got everything started in August 1956.

“He called me on the phone and asked me on a date," said Linda Moffatt, née Phillips. "It was a blind date. I said, ‘Why, sure.’”

He was playing football at the University of Texas. She was still in high school in Texarkana. A 10-hour, one-way train ride to see James for just a weekend was worth every second.

Sixty-two years and three additional generations later, Linda and James gained countless great memories together. He took part in multiple sports as a senior Olympian, competing in the long jump, triple jump, discus, javelin, among other events across the southern United States, even winning multiple gold medals.

The longtime high school football coach did just that for 22 years, making stops in Comanche, Atlanta, Jasper, Lufkin and Texarkana.

The accomplishments James and Linda enjoyed together, however -- climbing the high point of each state.

“I did 40 points, he did 49,” Linda said. “That gave us an opportunity to go to every state and see areas of the U.S. that we might’ve missed.”

Alaska is the only state that James wasn’t able to complete before passing away Sept. 5, 2020.

When the climbing of Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, was discussed, he ultimately decided against it. It would’ve taken the then-73-year old 3-4 weeks to finish, and considering what the freezing temperatures might do to his hearing aid, he chose to make Hawai’i the last state in which to climb.

Even though he didn’t climb ‘The High One’, the steps he made to impact those close to him mean just as much.

“I’ve been hearing from a lot of those players who played for him 50 years ago who said, 'I’m the person I am today because of him," Linda said.

Perhaps in the future, one of his kids, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren can hike to the top of that Alaskan peak in his honor.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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