Memorial held for 'The Dawgfather' Don James

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on October 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 27 at 10:10 PM

Friends, family and dozens of former players gathered at Alaska Airlines Arena on the UW campus on Sunday to honor former Coach Don James, who died last Sunday at age 80 due to pancreatic cancer.

The "Dawgfather" served as the UW football team's head coach from 1975 through 1992 and was the winningest football coach in the school's history.

“Coach Don James has left us, and the game is not the same,” former UW Athletic director Mike Lude said at Sunday’s memorial.

Longtime family friend Sam Wick said James, in his last days, told him he would be laying down all the trophies he’d accumulated throughout his career because they would’t be going with him to heaven.

“Instead, his lifelong trophies and crowns are his family and the thousands of lives Don impacted and changed,” said Wick.

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"Don James will truly live on because we're here," said former player Michael Jackson. "We're going to tell our children about that man, we're going to tell our grandchildren about that man, we're going to tell our grandchildren's grandchildren about that great man who one day walked this earth, who gave us an opportunity, who prepared us to be human beings contributing to society, who taught us not only to be great athletes, he made us champions."

"Our community lost an icon," said current UW football Coach Steve Sarkisian.

“He set a standard here, a standard of excellence that is not only upheld by the football program, but by every sport on this campus,” he said. “He changed the face of Washington athletics and the standard of excellence that is acceptable, and that is championships."

During his 18 seasons at the helm, James led Washington to six conference titles and the 1991 national championship. James was named the AFCA National Coach of the Year in 1977, when he led the Huskies to the Rose Bowl for his first time. In 1991, he won four different national coach of the year awards. At the time of his retirement in 1993, his 10 bowl-game victories were fourth-most in college history, behind only Paul "Bear" Bryant, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden.

The current batch of Huskies  (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) on Saturday honored James with a flurry of big plays to blow out the California Golden Bears, 41-17.

James is survived by his wife Carol, three children and 10 grandchildren.

 





The Associated Press and KING5.com's LIza Javier contributed to this report.

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