March 16, 1925 – February 27, 2021
James L. “Jim” Powers, Sr., 95, formerly of South Bend, died peacefully on February 27, 2021 at Riverwalk Village in Noblesville. He was born March 16, 1925 in South Bend, Indiana, the son of Edgar and Hilda (Miller) Powers.
Jim was a very accomplished Indiana basketball player and coach. He starred on the 1942 and 1943 South Bend Central High School teams that were ranked #1 in the state and coached by the legendary John Wooden. As one of the top players in the state, he was selected as a 1943 Indiana All-Star and elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team in 1968. After World War II, he rejoined Coach Wooden as a player at Indiana State Teachers College (Indiana State University) where he was a starter on teams that were runner up in the NAIB national tournament in 1948 and won the national title in 1950. As a result of the critical role that Coach Wooden played during Jim’s high school and college years, they developed a close personal friendship that lasted throughout the remainder of their lives. Upon graduation from Indiana State, Jim started his career as a teacher and coach at his alma mater, South Bend Central. He was an assistant coach on both the 1953 and 1957 state champion teams there before he became head coach in 1958. His head coaching career spanned 18 years including stops at South Bend Central, Rochester and Elkhart Memorial. During his coaching career his teams compiled a combined 283-137 record including 9 sectional, 3 regional and 1 semi-state titles. His 1963 South Bend Central team finished as state runner up. He finished his career as athletic director at Elkhart Memorial for 10 years in 1986. In 1993, Jim was elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame for his outstanding playing and coaching career accomplishments. He served the Hall of Fame as a director and director emeritus for past 25 years.
Jim was also a proud World War II veteran serving in the Army Air Force after his high school graduation and through the end of the war. He flew 45 combat missions from his airbase in southern Italy as a radio operator and waist-gunner on B-24 Liberator missions over Germany and Eastern Europe. He survived a crash landing in hostile territory returning from one mission when he was listed as missing in action for 3 days.
In 1954, Jim married the love of his life, Marilyn Glaser at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Indiana. They celebrated 66 years of marriage last November.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by a brother, Edgar and a beloved daughter, Jackie. Surviving in addition to his wife, Marilyn (Glaser) Powers, are his sons, James Jr. (LuAnn) of Carmel, Indiana, Jeffrey (Mary) of Indianapolis, Indiana and Christopher (Colleen) of Columbus, Ohio, his 7 grandchildren, Justin Thome, Kathryn (Powers) Laughner, Damon Thome, Michael Powers, Alex Powers, Paige Powers, Zach Powers, Garrett Powers and Claire Powers, and 3 great grandchildren, Alison Laughner, James Laughner and Camryn Powers.
Visitation will be open to the public at St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church, 54191 N. Ironwood, South Bend, Indiana from 1:00-2:00 pm on Thursday, March 4 immediately followed by a Funeral Mass. The Church will manage the number of visitors allowed at any one time due to COVID restrictions, and masks will be required. The Funeral Mass will also be live streamed. The live stream can be accessed via the church website littleflowerchurch.org and then scrolling down to the Live and Recorded Masses tile.
The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to the many caregivers who helped and supported Jim over the past several months especially those at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital and Riverwalk Village.
Those that wish to remember Jim in a special way may make a donation in his memory to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, One Hall of Fame Court, New Castle, Indiana 47362 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To send private condolences or to share memories, please visit www.McGannHay.com