James W. Waldrip, age 89, passed peacefully at his home on November 20, 2018. He was born to Guilbert M. Waldrip and Helen Schmitz Waldrip in Healdton, Oklahoma on November 28, 1928, the youngest of three children. After graduating Healdton High School, Jim attended the University of Oklahoma where he lettered in track and baseball. Jim pitched for the 1951 College World Series championship team under the coaching of Jack Baer. Jim graduated OU in 1951 with a BS in Geology. He earned a Master’s degree in Science Education from New Mexico State University and an Ed Specialist degree in School Administration from Eastern New Mexico University. He also completed graduate work in Physics at San Diego State and the University of New Mexico.
Jim was offered a contract to play baseball for the NY Giants, but turned down the offer to enlist in the US Air Force in 1951. He served active duty during the Korean War. He completed Officer’s Candidate School and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in December 1952. He transferred to the US Air Force Reserves and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Jim married Joanne Kruse on December 20, 1952. Together they had four children. They came to Roswell in 1955 and began teaching with the Roswell Independent School District. Jim spent summers and weekends pitching in the Longhorn League alongside good friend Joe Bauman. Jim enjoyed time with friends, playing cards on Saturday evenings, golfing and taking road trips to visit his treasured grandchildren.
Teaching and coaching kept Jim young, sharp and engaged. Jim spent 44 years teaching high school General Science, Biology and Astronomy for both Roswell and Goddard High Schools. He was the founding director of the Robert H. Goddard planetarium which opened in 1969. In the early 1970s, he was the Athletic Director and High School Principal for the New Mexico Military Institute. He taught astronomy at Eastern New Mexico University Roswell and Ruidoso campuses until retiring at 86 years old. He was a respected coach, leading 9 high school teams to State Championship victories. Two for Roswell High baseball in the 1960s and 7 state Championships for Goddard High golf in the 70s and 80s. Jim started the girl’s golf program at Goddard High in the 1980s. Through coaching and teaching, Jim mentored and touched the lives of many generations of students.
Service to the Roswell community was a priority for Jim. He was a decades long member of the Roswell Rotary Club and recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow recognition. Only in his last two years did his perfect attendance wane. Through Rotary, he forged strong bonds in the community. Jim served on the Roswell Independent School Board from 2003-2016. He served on the ENMU-R Foundation Board from 2012 until his death. He was an unfailing advocate for strong public education and students.
Jim’s life provided an example of how deep and personal and social fulfillment can come from commitment to service, high standards and strong ethics.
Jim is predeceased by his parents, beloved wife JoAnne, brother Guilbert M. Waldrip, Jr, and his cherished sister Helen Waldrip Hunt. Survivors include daughters Suzie Waldrip of Roswell, NM; Deborah Teeter (Mike) of West Hills, CA; and Beth Waldrip of Albuquerque, NM; and his son Ted Waldrip (Myungsuk) of Grapevine, TX. He is also survived by six grandchildren Miren Urrea and Helena Urrea of Albuquerque, NM; Elizabeth Teeter and Michael Teeter of West Hills, CA; Wylie Waldrip and Mina Waldrip of Grapevine, TX as well as numerous nieces and friends.
The family is truly grateful for Jim’s caregivers and friends who were with him in his final days.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 AM, Friday December 21, 2018 at Pueblo Auditorium, 300 North Kentucky in Roswell. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim’s name to the RMAC Foundation Planetarium Fund, 400 N. Pennsylvania Avenue Suite 220 Roswell, NM 88201.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Ballard Funeral Home and Crematory. An online registry can be accessed at www.ballardfuneralhome.com
What a marvelous man & a marvelous life! The last time I had a phone visit with him was when he went my parents' estate sale & he purchased a desk my father had used at OU when he was in law school. He wondered if I wanted the desk back. A lot of his card playing was with my godparents, Jewel & Ernie Harp. And of course he was a trailblazer with Nancy Lopez being on the boy's golf team & the wonderful planetarium. I believe that my sister Susan & Suzie were classmates. (or was it Edward?) His memorial service was at my junior high school on my 65th birthday. My sympathy to the family.
Laura Snead WatersMountain Home, AR
Condolences to family, I served on the school board with Jim. He was a great person. I enjoyed the time we served together.
george petersonroswell, NM
We are so sorry for your loss. The world has definitely lost a human being who was a blessing to all he came in contact with. He had the unique ability to see & give a person what they needed to be better & stronger. He left a wonderful legacy of blessings. Coach has made the heavens a better place, and can't you imagine his love of his stars from heavens view point. Our lives are less because of his absence, but we are thrilled he is in the arms of our God & Savior. Our love, Claude & Shirley Burba
Claude & Shirley BurbaRoswell, NM
My memories of your family will always remain precious in my heart. Your Dad was always the storyteller who made everyone he met feel special and welcomed. He made me laugh every time I saw him, and I always was made to feel a part of your family when I entered your home. My family is keeping you all close to our hearts. We send our love to all of you.
Cassie BanksLas Cruces, NM
On behalf of the 1968 and 1969 graduates of Roswell High School, I would like to extend our sorrow on the passing of your father. He was loved by so many. His leadership, teaching, coaching and friendship was a gift to all of us. Our sincere condolences and prayers are with you now and the days ahead. Pat Harrison Dodson
Pat DodsonROSWELL, NM
One of the kindest and noblest men I have ever known. He shall be missed.
Lynn M SutterNorton, VA
Sarge was a literal HOOT! Incredibly smart and witty and knew something about everything! It was a honor to have known him and call him a friend. He truly loved his family first and foremost along with his many friends and those he mentored. His contribution to this world which I called his stage, was to raise great kids, become a fantastic grandfather, this planet lbs foremost story teller, and inspiration to all who knew him. I will miss sharing Moscow mules, horse feathers, and red wine. It is fitting that he has a paper in the Roswell alien museum as his place in heaven is surely next door to to the stars next door.
Mike HunnCarrollton, TX
Jim and I became friends while I was working on my upcoming book, Left On Base in the Bush Leagues, which features his best friend, Joe Bauman. Fortunately, Jim got to review the chapter on Joe prior to his death. I will miss our conversations and his upbeat approach to life. We both attended the University of Oklahoma and took great delight in the Sooners’ success on the gridiron. Boomer Sooner, my friend. I’ll always remember our time together in Roswell.
Gaylon H. whiteKingsport, TN
Coach touched so many lives and always with a good spirit. My prayers are with you and know that he was truly one of a kind. He will be missed!!!
MARTA PERRYROSWELL, NM
The world and especially this community will miss a great man in the passing of Mr. Waldrip. I served with Mr. Waldrip in the RISD. I had the utmost respect for him because he had integrity,respected all individuals and was so knowledgeable. I learned a lot from him. May he rest in peace and may God bless his family and give them the strength to endure the pain in such a loss.
Juan OropesaRoswell, NM
It was nice to read about your Dad. Some similar core stuff to my Dad - their dedication to service to others, community and family - so important and getting lost these days. Let's let our Dad's dedication to others flow through us and blossom. Your Dad is within you in so many ways, may you all feel that peace and tranquility from his presence. Love to you all. Karin (Deb's grad school friend)
Karin LiljegenLos Angeles, CA
It was so lovely to read about your Dad. He sounds like the same core as my Dad. Let us take that dedication to service, others, and family with us and let it bloom again within us. Your Dad is with you, within you in so many ways - feel his spirit and soul there and find peace.
Karin LiljegenLos Angeles, CA
To my dear neighbors for so many years, I send my love at this time of grief. Your father was well known for many things, but to me I knew him for his kindness, humor and wonderful smile...always waving "hello". What a great man! He will be missed by all who knew him. God bless you during this time and always.
Carol (Wasserman) BradySun City, AZ
Out deepest sympathy to all this family may God always comfort this family. God Bless, Cheryl & Tim
Tim & Cheryl WaffulRoswell, NM
Please accept my condolences for the loss of your loved one. When someone we love dies, the heartache and grief can be very great. I hope you can be comforted knowing that Jehovah God cares for you and sees your pain (1 Peter 5:7) Psalm 34:18 tell us that “He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May you draw comfort and strength from his promise during this grievous time, as you cherish your loving and precious memories.