2018-05-16 / Sports

Longtime Lapeer Community Schools volunteer Jim Vaughan passes

810-452-2626 • lpaine@mihomepaper.com

Jim Vaughan Jim Vaughan LAPEER — James “Jimmie” Vaughan, 79, of Lapeer, formerly Columbiaville, passed away Friday, May 11.

Vaughan was a dedicated volunteer for Lapeer Community Schools sports, in particular Lapeer West, before the Lapeer East- Lapeer West merger, and then embraced the new Lapeer High sports teams as one.

Longtime Lapeer East and West basketball coach and dual athletic director at both schools during his tenur and now retired, Tim Zeeman, knows Vaughan well.

“I first met Jim my first year at West, 1994- 95,” said Zeeman. “I always associate him with Ray Hile, another longtime volunteer. Jim kept my book, did the clock and they (Jim and Ray) have been affiliated with West football for a long time.”

Zeeman noted Vaughan as a true blue Lapeer West loyalist.

“He was just a dedicated, loyal, hardworking man,” said Zeeman. “He just loved being around the kids, and was a true blue Blue and Gold diehard. I always joked with him about my teams not always being the best and he was always positive about them telling me they were on their way up despite what I was seeing in them.”

The Candy Man was a moniker many may have used for Vaughan, as everyone affiliated with basketball knew of his never-ending supply of candy and gum at the scorer’s table. The kids, the coaches, the refs, they all loved that aspect about Jim says Zeeman..

“He was just that type of guy,” said Zeeman. “When I moved into the AD ranks, having guys like Jim Vaughan, I could always count on him to do whatever needed to be done. He’s going to be greatly missed. When I talked to Ray on Friday, he was obviously upset about the loss. It’s just going to be tough.”

Zeeman added that even while battling cancer, Vaughan was always positive and didn’t let anyone take the negative path.

“His health had been failing and the way to console that, I guess, is to say he is in a better place,” said Zeeman. “That’s garbage! We are going to miss him greatly and would rather still have him down here with us. The Lapeer kids. He embraced the whole group when the two schools merged. He still bled the Blue and Gold of West but he was LAPEER, true and true and reached out to all the kids, regardless of which side they came from. One of the most genuine people I have known.”

Lapeer High and former Lapeer West football coach Mike Smith has known Vaughan longer, noting his 30-year volunteer stint with the district.

“Thirty years,” said Smith Monday afternoon of Vaughan's longevity. “Jim was doing our chain gang and as time went on, became the lead guy on the crew and made sure we had enough guys. Somewhere in there he started doing the basketball with Ray Hile. He started doing the scoreboard in the press box and has been on the bus with the kids at every Lapeer Lighting football game.”

Although Vaughan hailed from Columbiaville and saw his four kids graduate from LakeVille, Smith said it was just supporting the Lapeer West and then Lapeer kids and coaches, just truly wanting to help.

“It’s always easy to be positive, but especially when we were losing, Jim was just positive,” added Smith. “It’s just really hard to find people like that. Even through the cancer battle he was so positive and he’s just really going to be missed. A really remarkable person for sure.”

When asked how a LakeVille guy became so entrenched in Lapeer, Smith detailed how just before Vaughan retired, he and his wife moved into Lapeer and managed the Crestview Trailer Park for a number of years and just became part of the West chain gang just to stay involved with the kids. The rest is history.

“He didn’t ask for anything, just helped us do countless events, fundraisers, golf outings, whatever we needed help with,” said Smith. “We desperately need volunteers all the time and he was just one of those quality people that made everything better for us, the kids and the community.”

Vaughan was honored on Dec. 29, 2011, along with Hile, his sidekick and best friend, as longtime Lapeer West volunteers at the annual Harry C. Moore Memorial High School Basketball Classic. Details at that time say Vaughan joined the chain gang in the early 1980s. In 1990, then-athletic director, Bill Thompson, asked Jim to keep the book for the basketball games and Jim has been doing this job ever since.

Vaughan noted after receiving the volunteer award that he likes volunteering at Lapeer West because he likes working with all the kids. “The kids are number one in my book,” Vaughn said.

A Funeral service took place Tuesday, May 15 at Jansen Family Funeral Home - Columbiaville, with Interment at Stiles Cemetery. Memorial contributions in memory of James may be made to the family.

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