James “Coach” Nedelcoff
James Nedelcoff of Hazel Green, WI died peacefully on September 12, 2019 at the age of 90 after a long, hard-fought, battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
James is survived by his loving wife of 68 years, Pauline, who he married on December 27, 1951 at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church in Hazel Green, WI; Sons David (Sue) of New Berlin, WI, Michael (Gina) of Davenport, IA , Jon (Linda) of Oregon, WI; eight grandchildren Lindsey, Terra, Austin, Nick, Matt, Madison, Jaelyn and Donovan; and four great grandchildren Weston, Alec, Calvin and Max.
James was preceded in death by his parents Marco and Julia Nedelcoff as well as his only daughter, Laurie, who died in 2003 after a long battle with cancer.
Jim’s life in Hazel Green led him to his passion of helping young people achieve their goals as a teacher and coach. He was born June 3, 1929 – the first baby born in the Hazel Green hospital. Jim graduated from Hazel Green High School in 1946 and was heavily influenced by L.B. Carns who served as his teacher, coach, and mentor. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and graduated with a Teaching Degree and Coaching Certificate in 1951. He would later graduate from Loras College with a Master’s Degree in Education (1970)
Jim was drafted into the US Army shortly after graduating from UW Platteville and served overseas in several locations. He played for the US Army Baseball Team and competed in Hitler Stadium, Wembley Stadium and other famous European locations during his service.
After returning from his two years of service, Jim worked for the Red Dot Potato Chip Company before accepting a teaching position and coaching positions in the summer of 1954 at Benton High School in Benton, WI. Jim taught for 18 years at Benton High School. He was also the head football coach, the head basketball coach, and had many other responsibilities during those years. After 18 great years at Benton, Jim went back home, accepting a position as social studies and history teacher as well as the head basketball coaching position at his alma mater, Hazel Green High School in 1972. Jim spent 21 years leading the Southwestern Wildcats. He had many successful seasons during his 39 years coaching basketball, with one ending at the state tournament championship game on a last second shot. Always the optimist, he never let his players dwell on a loss but chose instead to remind them “The sun will come up tomorrow”.
In honor of his years of leadership and professionalism, Jim was inducted into the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Association Hall Of Fame on March 26, 1994 and the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall Of Fame on June 17, 1994 – one of five Wisconsin High School coaches in both of those Halls of Fame. He was also inducted into the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Athletic Hall Of Fame on October 31, 1998. The Southwestern (Hazel Green) school gymnasium was named for him on December 22, 2007.
Jim was blessed with friends, too numerous to mention, who enriched his life and shared in many memorable times – such as family picnics, family vacations, playing cribbage, trips to state tournaments, Final Fours, and Gulf Shores.
Jim spent his retirement years playing the other game he loved, golf. An accomplished player his entire life, Jim spent many hours playing golf, assisting coaches, mowing grass, and traveling with Pauline to escape the cold winters or to see his grandchildren’s activities. He said he never worked a day in his life. He truly loved his career of working with kids. Jim touched many people as a teacher and a coach but also as a lifelong friend to so many of his former students.
Jim’s family would like to thank his many exceptional caregivers and Hospice of Dubuque. You made it possible for him to stay at home.
Jim’s Memorial Service Program will be held at the James Nedelcoff Gymnasium in Hazel Green on Sunday, October 6, at 1:00 PM. Since Jim loved all Wisconsin sports teams – from Zephyrs and Wildcats to Pioneers, Badgers, Packers, Brewers, and Bucks – you are invited to dress casually and wear something from your favorite sports team.
Per his request his funeral and burial will be a private family service.
In lieu of plants & flowers a James “Coach” Nedelcoff Memorial Fund has been established.
The Haudenshield Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Cuba City, WI is serving the family.
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