June 30, 2005 at 7:01 a.m.
He was born Aug. 31, 1914, in Divernon, Ill., where he was one of nine children in a family of Hungarian heritage.
After completion of high school, he attended Bradley Tech University, in Peoria, Ill., where he played four years of college football and became team captain and an All-American player. He then served in the Merchant Marines during WWII.
Jim married Dorothy Bathen Jan. 9, 1944, in St. Louis, Missouri. He accepted a teaching position in Chisago City in 1946 as an American History and Industrial Arts teacher as well as a coach of all the sports offered at the time. There were no player buses in those early years so he drove the students home each night after practice. His first football teams consisted of a six-man team until he could recruit enough farm boys for eight-man and finally a regular team of 11 players. He coached the Chisago Lakes Indians for 23 years, was athletic director for one year following Chisago City/Lindstrom schools consolidation, and resumed the head coach position once more, retiring in 1976.
He was elected to the Bradley Hall of Fame in 1954, to the Minnesota Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Chisago Lakes Hall of Fame in 2004.
Jim was Justice of the Peace in Chisago City in 1956 and 1957.
From 1957 to 1964, Jim, along with his wife, Dorothy, owned and operated Jim’s Drive Inn on Highway 8. They served root beers in frosty mugs along with nickel and dime cones and hamburgers with french fries.
He enjoyed playing cards, working in his woodshop, hunting and especially fishing.
Jim loved his wife and family and lived a full life. He was a hard working man but never too busy to lend a helping hand. His philosophy with his teams was centered on discipline and teamwork. Jim’s zest for life was reflected in the many friendships and acquaintances he gathered throughout the years.
He is preceded in death by his daughter, Jeanne Nelson.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; sons: Jim Jr. (Daphne) and Dick (Cathy); daughter, Lou Ann (Brad); grandsons: Ron Nelson, Paul Molnar, Benjamin Mattson and granddaughters: Molly Molnar and Jill Mattson.
Service is today (Thursday) at Zion Lutheran Church, Chisago City, at 11 a.m. Visitation was Wednesday, from 6-8 p.m., at Grandstrand Funeral Home, Lindstrom, and one hour before the service. Interment at Chisago Lake Memorial Park.
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