James Arnold McAuley died on March 8, 2023 at age 91. The son of William and Margaret McAuley, he was born in Merced, California and grew up in San Francisco.

He was known as Jim to many, as Mac to his close friends and contemporaries, and as Coach McAuley to a large and very special group of people.

After serving in the Air Force, Jim came to Humboldt in the 1950s. He attended and graduated from Humboldt State, meeting his wife of 68 years, Janis McClaskey, and where he is remembered in the athletic Hall of Fame. He began his coaching career with a successful stint at Arcata High School, followed by one year at Santa Rosa Junior College.

In 1967, Jim was recruited to return to Humboldt County to start the football program for the fledgling College of the Redwoods, which resulted in a ten-year run at the helm of CR football. The first football team in 1967 won three games and lost six, with several close losses. The next season CR won the State Championship, starting a remarkable nine-year window where the team won 84 games, losing 7, with one tie. In all, from 1968 to 1976, CR won three California state championships, two Northern California championships (in years when the state championships were not contested), and nine Golden Valley Conference championships. He also coached baseball for a several years, as well as the golf team for many years.

Jim said the success of the CR football teams was the players, and otherwise largely due to the coaches he worked most closely with, Fred Whitmire and Tom Giacomini. In 1977, after stepping down as football coach, Jim became the Athletic Director at CR until his retirement in 1991.

The community responded to the success of College of the Redwoods football by building a covered, on-campus stadium for the Corsairs, through private donation of time, money and materials. That effort was extraordinary, as a stadium rose out of the south-east corner of the campus. Fans, whether at Eureka High School for home games in the early years, or at Community Stadium on the CR campus, provided loud and strong support of the local team.

As a coach, he was honored as the California Community College Football Coach of the Year four times. He is a member of the California Community College Commission on Athletics Hall of Fame and the California Community College Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Additionally, he is a member of the Arcata High School Hall of Fame, and the College of the Redwoods Hall of Fame.

He enjoyed fishing for much of his life, as well as time spent with Frank Powers, who Jim met while teaching at Arcata High School. The Powers and McAuley families had adjoining properties with cabins along the Salmon River near Cecilville, California for many years.

His retirement years included golfing into his 80s, cribbage in the club house at Eureka Golf Course, and travel with his wife Janis. Measured by the depth of his character, he was loved and respected by his family. He is the father of Lynn McAuley Rambach (Glenn) who passed in 2017 and Bill (Cynthia) McAuley. He has two grandsons, Neil (Michelle) McAuley and Ross McAuley and one great granddaughter, Marie Lynn McAuley. He is survived by his sister Barbara Wolff and three nephews and a niece.

The family would like to specially thank Fred Whitmire, who was Jim’s hand-picked successor as head football coach at CR. Fred was instrumental in ensuring a steady flow of visitors, cards, and letters during Jim’s final days. The family would also like to thank those who were able to see him recently, the nurses and staff at St. Joseph Hospital and Granada Rehabilitation.

The family will hold a private memorial. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made a favorite charity.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Jim McAuley’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.