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