Legendary coach Jim Poteete passes at 83
by Danny Wade
Humboldt lost one its most beloved sons last week. Legendary coach Jim Poteete passed away last Wednesday morning.
Practically everyone who lives in or has lived in Humboldt over the past 40-plus years either knew or knew of Coach Po.
When word of his death hit Wednesday, social media blew up with tributes, messages and tales of memories. A few words that were used over and over in many of the posts were respect, influence and mentor. Coach Po was definitely all of those and much more. (please see tributes to Coach Poteete on page 12).
The one lesson he taught all his players and students over the years was “do right”. He preached “do right” to everyone. He motto was plain and simple, only two words. But with him saying those two small words, it had huge meaning.
At 6’3” Poteete was larger than life. Many of his
accomplishments were as an athlete, a teacher and principal. But for those who knew him, he was so much more.
He was a giving man, often times lending his auctioneer services to charities and fundraisers. When he got behind the microphone at an auction, people dug a little deeper in their pockets knowing their dollars were going to a good cause.
In 1997, Poteete was inducted into the Gibson County Sports Hall of Fame. That same year he was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Madison County Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Poteete graduated from Jackson High School in 1955 where he earned the Elks award as the school’s outstanding athlete. At Jackson High, he participated in three sports and was named All-State, All-Southern and All-American in football. He played in the East-West All-American football game.
After high school, Poteete went to Mississippi State University where he played both football and basketball as a freshman. The remaining three years he focused only on football. Poteete lettered his last two seasons as a Bulldog playing on both sides of the ball— at center on offense and linebacker on defense.
Poteete got a taste of professional football when he was drafted in the 15th round (171st overall pick) by the Philadelphia Eagles to play center on the offensive line under head coach Buck Shaw for a short stint.
So the young Poteete took his education to the classroom as a teacher and on the football field as a coach. His first coaching position was with Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, Miss. in 1959. He then moved back to Tennessee to Chester County High School where he spent seven years. Coach Po had a 1-year stint at Somerville High School before ending his coaching career at Humboldt High School, from 1968 until 1976.
Poteete earned Coach of the Year honors two times in West Tennessee. He took his 1969 Humboldt team all the way to the Class AA State Championship game.
After Poteete left the coaching ranks, he accepted the principal position at Humboldt High in 1977 where he stayed until 1991.
In 1995, Poteete took an assistant coaching position at Milan High School for one season. He spent the next few years back at Chester County as principal 1996 to 2000.
Coach Poteete served on the TSSAA Board of Control for 11 years.
After his career as a coach and educator, Poteete was still active and seen around Humboldt at various businesses and events.
Over the past several years, Coach Po battled cancer, beating it once, only to have it come back. His last battle, unfortunately, was not won.
Shelton-Hunt Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. He leaves his wife, Mary Lee; sons, Mike and Steve; and daughters Janet and Beth; and a multitude of people who considered him a friend.
Even though the beloved Coach Jim Poteete has gone off into that football field in the sky, his legacy in Humboldt will live on and on for years to come.
Rest in peace Coach Po.
Community pays tribute to Poteete with Facebook posts
I remember Coach Po umpiring when I pitched in Babe Ruth. If you got a little wild and got to walking batters, he would walk out to the mound, and say, son you better start throwing strikes, Gunsmoke will be on soon and don’t make me late!
Such fond memories of Coach Po. He never forgot a student’s name. I remember he told us he loved us like we were his own and we loved him too. I always remember seeing him at Walmart sitting on the bench and I would ask him what he doing and he said waiting on Mary Lee. The love of his life. RIP Coach Po.
I was fortunate not only to work for Coach Po, but also I was in his homeroom throughout high school and cheered for his Rams! The influence he had on me is beyond words. He was kind and loving but let us all know he expected us to “Do Right!” I will miss him so much.
Prayers for this magnificent family. Coach Po was a mentor to so many. One who has influenced our lives way beyond the days of school. The one who taught us the simple rule of life “Do Right”. Praying for comfort for this family. He was a true man that I would call a Hero!
Rest in Peace, Coach Po. You will surely be missed. Thank you for everything you did for all your students. Absolutely the BEST…
I humbly ask that God would come and provide the comfort needed to come to terms with all that has happened – and the strength to face the reality that things will never be as they were.
Leonard F Graves Sr.
RIP Coach Po! I will never forget you and your one rule DO RIGHT! My senior year I had to be out of school for 6 weeks and Coach Po was my homebound teacher. He made sure I didn’t fall behind and that I graduated on time. Truly a man with a heart of gold that cared and was dedicated to the kids of Humboldt High!
Tiffanie Dodd Edwards
So sorry to hear this news. His influence on so many of us still shape our lives today. If teachers/administrators today could discipline like he did, the world would have a lot fewer problems. Rest In Peace Coach.
I’m lost for words! As the tears fall I know you are no longer in pain! I know you was such a great influence on so many people, not only kids but adults too! I’m so glad my son got to meet you the day at the armory! He always knew you was a great man by the way I talked about you and your wife also! He said when you left that day he knew in that short time talking to you why I thought so much of you! Not only was you the greatest principal ever you were a great friend! Fly high my friend! No more pain! Love ya always! You will be missed! Momma Po you and your family are in our prayers! Love you!
Great coach, great principal, great man, and a great friend, admired and respected by many. This comes from me and from my brother Ralph, long-time Superintendent of Humboldt City Schools with whom Coach Po served. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” – Numbers 6:24-2.
No words to describe how much we will all miss this amazing man. God bless you and your sweet family!
Betty Murphree Allen Langley
Not only a mentor, educator, but a Godly Man, who is the same where ever I saw you, whether the school house or in Wal-Mart. Thank you for the countless lessons I learned while under your watch and the numerous, conversations while I sat and talked with you in Wal-Mart while you waited for Mrs. PO. I am so glad God sent our paths to cross in my life.
My mentor & friend. Keeping you and the family in my prayers.
Love you and Mrs. Po.
Coach Po you forever left a impact on my life! You saved me because you cared when I didn’t! Nothing but total respect for you!!!
Coach Po’s sickness may have won the game but I promise ya he put up one hell of a goal line stand! Way to fight! Rest Viking.
Carlos Kowalski Bynum
Coach Po is one of the few men to impact me as much as my dad. He loves all and treats all alike. He is a mentor and a lifelong gift to me. Thanks Coach for helping me become the man I have become today. I could only pray that I could have a fraction of the influence you have had on all of West Tennessee and beyond. You showed so many young men what it means to be a man! Thank you for being such an illustration for me! May God bless you and give you comfort! And thanks for those breaks in practice just to watch the ducks fly over!!! I love you!
Ralph Jones III
Coach Po…what a great man and I loved having him as my High School principal. Beleive me, he would keep you out of trouble! He was a giant to me back then but he had a heart of gold! I know he knew the Lord Jesus Christ and is celebrating today more than he ever has. Prayers for his family….he will be missed. Humboldt is blessed to have had a man like him over all these years. God Bless you coach!
I’ve never known a better man than Jim Poteete. He will be missed, but I sure am happy to have such an angel up there on my side. Prayers for Mrs. Mary Lee – my Mama remembers you fondly from your conversations during Coach Po’s treatments at the hospital, my classmate Janet, and all the members of this beautiful family, which to Coach Po pretty much includes the whole town of Humboldt.
Coach Po – how lucky were we to know such a man! He was bigger than life, a firm hand but the softest of hearts, a laugh that was contagious (I can hear it now) and oh the stories he could tell! My heartfelt prayers for precious Mary Lee, my friend Janet, Beth, Steve, Mike and the grandchildren. We will miss you, Coach Po! Give my momma and daddy a big hug for me!
Felecia Granger Kilday
I googled respect and this is what I found. It takes time and consistency to earn respect but if you are good at what you do you people just respect you. Coach Po didn’t have to earn respect because he was kind, fair and cared about every student that passed thru his halls. Every school needs a principal and coach like him!! Prayers for healing and comfort. Prayers for the family.
Beverly Atkins Sanford
Prayers for you, Coach Po, and your family. I still use some of your humor in my sermons, such as the announcement you made over the intercom at school one day: “We’ll have school picture make-up day on Thursday, but you can’t have your picture re-made just because the first one looks like you.” Your humor brought people together, as well as your character and passion for education and moral formation of students, athletes, teachers, and staff. May the Lord’s blessings & peace always be with you & your family. Psalm 23.
Not many people touch the lives of so many people in the way Coach PO did!! Such a testimony to a great, loving, kind hearted man! He will be missed but he will live on in our hearts forever!! Continued prayers and love for all of you!
Teresa Stutts Patterson
Nothing but love, prayers, & respect coming from my family to the Poteetes. Coach, you are the very definition of HERO, and, Mary Lee, I love the way you still make his eyes twinkle!!
Mary Key Roe
Some of my fondest memories of HHS were shaped by Coach Jim Poteete. He was not just a great leader and coach, he was a great man. I am forever grateful for the influence he had on my life and the impact he had on shaping my belief that you can do whatever you want to do if you are willing to put in the effort. Thanks, Coach, for the positive impact you had on so many.
Coach Po, love you and Mary Lee. I think of y’all often. If it was not for you and the love of Christ I would be in bad shape. I too have been fighting cancer since 1997. A lot times in my life I have thought of you and the coaching staff to dig down and pull out a lil more strength and courage. Praying for you and Mary Lee. Thanks for donating money to St. Jude.
For those of us who didn’t have fathers at home he showed us what a man was supposed to be and how a person was supposed to act. God’s speed Coach Po. You will be missed.
Some people leave such a deep and loving mark on your heart that you can literally hear their voice and feel their love whether they left this earth yesterday or almost 60 years ago. I’ll hear these voices and feel the genuine love until I see them again…Coach Poteete is the most recent of these precious ones. How he shared his love of everyone so honestly and with such care and class. So many lessons, still, to learn from him…and from his beloved Mary Lee (who he always gave all the credit! I love you, Miss Mary Lee) To Mike, Steve, Janet, Beth, (in laws/outlaws), grands, and all Po’s family… How blessed y’all are to carry a part of these two within you. From me… “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” ~Philippians 1:3.
Many of us could write books about the “Man” or Jungle Jim (which we would never say around him). I worked with him the summer he came to Humboldt at Bailey Park. We would set everything up and he would head for the field. He mowed and watered the football field, painted the locker room and did everything to give us the best situation he could. He demanded the same from us “Our Best”. He was the funniest person I ever met with a heart so big it barely stayed in his chest. He taught us life stories on and off the field and was an inspiration to us all. He loved his family and was welcomed with open arms to his Lord this week. He will be missed by all and continue in prayers for the family.
A wonderful principal, A wonderful coach, A wonderful man. He taught us the value of life, the lessons we would learn when getting older. The love for each other and the respect we all deserve. Prayers to you and your family.