James Nimmo Hubbard III
It is with great sadness the Hubbard family brings news of Coach’s passing on Friday, December 22, 2023 in his home in Newport News with his family by his side. Born in Somerville, MA, on May 9, 1934, he was the oldest and only son of James Nimmo Hubbard Jr and Hilda Matthews Hubbard of Westwood, MA. It would be said later he “had a Red Sox hat on his head and a stopwatch in his right hand at birth.”
Nim, his family name, developed an early interest in sports and learned to ice skate, play basketball, baseball, and to fish with the Boy Scouts. At Christ Episcopal Church in Somerville, he had a short career in the church choir that turned into a more permanent position as an altar boy once his singing talents were revealed. Nim also loved ice cream and landed his first job as a soda jerk in a local drugstore, which gave him an endless supply of free ice cream and maybe some lost profits for the drugstore.
Growing up, Nim attended Somerville High School, where he continued his lifelong passion for all sports, including basketball, Red Sox baseball, and Ted Williams (#9). His yearly birthday request was for his parents to provide him with a ticket to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway.
In his early years, Nim, his sisters, and parents embarked on yearly trips to visit their grandparents in Charles City, Virginia. The family did not own a car so they would travel either by boat, buses, trains, and trolleys to reach this destination. Here, his southern roots became deeply embedded in the acreage at Wood Park, where he could shoot his BB gun or dig up worms and spend endless hours of fishing with his grandfather. Later, he would take his daughters to this same fishing pond and pass out old bamboo poles and garden worms. When not fishing, he would sit in his granddad’s old Ford and listen to the scratchy sounds of baseball games on AM radio.
At 18 years old, he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and attended The College of William and Mary from 1952-1956, where he played basketball for his fraternity Sigma Nu, and served as pitcher for the Tribe’s baseball team. After meeting Margaret Sawyer in college, they married in 1955, and he graduated from the College of William and Mary with a BS and an M.ED in physical education in 1956. Thereafter, he began his academic career at Warwick High School in Newport News, where he taught physical education and coached track and field for 11 years. In addition to acquiring heaps of students to teach and coach, he added four daughters, Edie, Laura, Mary, and Julie, to the Hubbard family tree.
The “Warwick days” will be forever remembered for coach’s long training runs through the Mariners’ Museum and a white station wagon filled with high school runners being shepherded to various locations throughout the state. Coach left a lifelong impression on his young student-athletes, and he was recognized for losing only one track meet in his first four years of coaching. His dedication to his craft also influenced many students to pursue college degrees and coaching positions throughout the country.
In 1967-68 year, following his successful coaching career at Warwick, he received an appointment as a faculty member, track coach, and chairman of the newly created Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Leisure Studies at Christopher Newport College in Newport News, Virginia. Coach spent countless hours in Radcliffe gym, coaching, running drills, running the game clock, playing basketball and golf, and supervising conditioning classes. As an active member of the college, he attended innumerable meetings and tournaments, served and chaired college committees, and raised money for honor scholarships, all while giving guidance and career counseling to his many classes of students. Those who worked with him will never forget his work office and the stacks of folders, student papers, and tests that he could precisely locate before the start of one of his many classes.
Coach Hubbard had an extraordinary teaching and coaching career and was honored as the Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track Coach of the Year at Warwick High School and later at Christopher Newport College, where he had many winning individual and team titles. In 1973, coach was honored by Dixie Conference as Track Coach of the Year, and in 1984, he was inducted into the Newport News Track Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was inducted into the Christopher Newport College Athletic Hall of Fame for his decades of success in track and field, cross country and for establishing the new golf program at Christopher Newport.
Coach was a long-term resident of Newport News and contributed greatly to local charitable and fund-raising events. For 14 years, he volunteered his services to enhance the quality of life of residents of Newport News by offering free golf courses to senior citizens. He was a co-founder of the Peninsula Track Club and a moving force in starting the Peninsula Relay at Todd Stadium in Newport News. The women’s 2-mile relay, the initial race of the day, was named for him.
In 1992, the not quite retiring Professor Emeritus headed to his beach cottage in Nags Head, NC, where he taught golf at the College of the Albemarle in Manteo. Once there, he realized he had first-time golfers in his class, and he quietly purchased and provided loaner golf clubs and bags to these students. While in North Carolina, he participated in the Senior Olympics games, where he captured gold medals in golf, basketball, discus throwing, miniature golf, and photography. It was difficult to “beat” Jim in any sport or competitive game.
Coach Hubbard was a life-long learner, and he was constantly growing and evolving. He thought it would be interesting and fun to take more college classes at Christopher Newport, and in 1992, he graduated with a BS in Business administration with a concentration in Management.
Coach loved playing basketball and improving his golf game, but he had many other passions, including photography, crossword puzzles, art collection, fishing at the beach, growing rose bushes, tomatoes, and unique foliage at both his home in Newport News and at the beach. Never one to slow down, he started a new career as a golf ranger in Corolla, North Carolina, and took his final position as a ranger at Fort Eustis golf course, where he and his pal, Maynard, worked for free lunch and golf times. They headed over to Hardees for biscuits and gravy when they “quit that job.”
Coach was very proud of the long lineage of Hubbard family members and their numerous branches and additions. His ancestry included grandparents, James Nimmo Hubbard Sr and Louisa Nance Hubbard, Charles City, VA, and parents, James Nimmo Hubbard Jr and Hilda Matthews Hubbard, Westwood, MA. He also liked to say he was the oldest of three sisters, Lee Hubbard Seater, Ashland, OR; Virginia Hubbard Rothwell, Columbus, MO; and Jane Hubbard, Portland, OR. Other family members included his uncle Warren and aunt May, now deceased; his late grandmother, Edith Matthews Waugh, Cambridge, MA; cousins Warren Waugh, Gloucester, MA, and Brad Waugh, Judith Point, RI.
Coach leaves behind four loving and amazing daughters who will carry lifelong memories of their dad Edith Hubbard Hudson, Carrolton, VA; Laura Hubbard McQueen (Mike) Semora, NC; Mary M Hubbard Fuller (Gary), Newport News, VA; Julia James Hubbard Prokopik (Mike) Newport News, VA.
He is also survived by his eight grandchildren; (Christy, Anthony “Herbie”, Wes, Meredith, James, Alistair, Will, and Jamison) and 6 great-grandchildren, (Tony, Gabby, Marcus, Ean, Jack, and Isa) who cherished their much-loved grandfather who encouraged their sports, music, dance, bikes, golfing, crafting, fishing, swimming, educational prowess, and overall silliness. Grandad was quick to attend family celebrations, numerous graduations, programs, and special events in the community. Coach is also remembered fondly by nieces and nephews and their children (Sharon, Jimmy, Janice, David, Kim, Kristy, Karen, and Katrina), who adored their uncle Nim.
James Nimmo Hubbard, Coach, lived a rich life as a teacher, coach, dad, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, Red Sox fan, golfer, and overall sports enthusiast. An avid Red Sox fan, he followed all the New England teams closely, and he could promptly recite the standings, stats, and players, along with his opinions about various coaches and owners.
Coach had a calm gentleman’s manner to him and would only give sage advice when asked. And he freely gave sound guidance and wisdom to many throughout his long lifetime. He was incredibly generous to those in need, genuinely interested in people, and very gracious to hardworking employees. He also had a sly, mischievous side, as he was quick to smile, shake his head sideways, and deliver an all-seeing twinkle in his eye that everyone found to be endearing.
It is hard to sum up Coach’s life because he was totally devoted to all his career and personal journeys, and for that, he never worked a day in his life. Not many people can say, “I lived the life I dreamed and that I gave to myself.” Many people have said that he was a guy’s guy – but he certainly managed to have a lot of women in his life on the sideline cheering him on! Others will remember his sense of humor and quick sarcastic wit, or a story about a white station wagon, red truck, or meet-ups at Schooners, Monty’s Penguin, and Blue Star Diner.
Coach left numerous gifts to each of us in our everyday life and these gifts will continue as memories to enjoy for our lifetime. Please join us in remembering coach by planting a rose bush, enjoying a round of golf, or raising a cold beer. Cheers to Coach!
A Memorial and Celebration of Life: The Hubbard family welcomes guests to visit and share memories of Coach on Sunday, January 28, 2024, between the hours of 1-3 pm at Newport News Golf Club at Deer Run located at 901 Clubhouse Way. Family graveside services will be held in Charles City, VA. For more information, please visit www.peninsulafuneralhome.com/obituaries.
Special acknowledgement to the best team of in-home caregivers; Julie Woodard, Anette Yedlin, Ms. Georgia, Fox, Reginal Jackson, and Sara Scott.