Hundreds gather to remember UW football coach Don James

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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SEATTLE - Family, friends and former players gathered Sunday afternoon to remember former University of Washington football coach Don James.

The public memorial was held at Alaska Airlines Arena.

James coached at Washington from 1975-92 and led the school to a share of the 1991 national championship.

James' former players and friends described James as deeply religious, a man of faith who read the Bible and prayed for friends.

"Before every game, Coach James would get us in the locker room and he would say, 'Men, take a knee,'" said former player Mike Rohrbach.

Another of his former players, Chuck Nelson said, "He taught us about team before individual, that we all want to be part of something special, something bigger than our self."

The Dawgfather believed in discipline, in meticulous planning and in being punctual. It was a lesson he shared with athletes and even his own family. His grandson, Jeffrey James said he did it, "by constantly stressing if you're 15 minutes early, you're on time.

If you're on time, you're late and if you're late, you're left." According to his daughter, the coach had faith in God, read the Bible and tried to live by its principles.

He was devoted to his family. His daughter said his wife complained that she felt he was putting his job before his family.

"He got out from behind his big desk, went over and put his arms around her, and said, 'I will resign effective today if that's what I need to do because nothing will come before you and the family,'" said James' daughter Jill Woodruff.

Woodruff said her Dad accepted the last and greatest challenge of his life, fighting pancreatic cancer in the same dignified systematic manner that he did all others.

James died at his home last Sunday from pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

He surrendered to God's final game plan for him at home in the company of his family, while someone read from the Bible. A friend said James knew the Lord was waiting for him with open arms.