Jim Lemmon, longtime UC Berkeley administrator and well-known crew coach, dies at age 79

By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- Jim Lemmon, the former University of California, Berkeley, administrator and crew coach who led Cal crews to three national titles during the early 1960s, died on Monday (Jan. 25) following heart problems. He was 79 years old.

Lemmon retired from UC Berkeley in 1982 after a long administrative career in which he served as dean of men and director of student activities and services. He is perhaps best remembered for his work with the campus's crew team.

"Jim really had the capacity to bring out the fight in those young men," said Stephen Gladstone, UC Berkeley's director of rowing. "They were very aggressive racers, and I think that reflected a lot of Jim's spirit. Jim, without question, was extremely successful."

Lemmon was born Nov. 27, 1919, in Denver and raised in Long Beach, CA. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1946 following more than three years' duty in World War II. His military service including 51 air combat missions in Europe and the Pacific - efforts that would lead to such high honors as the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters.

Lemmon, who earned a degree in criminology, worked for five years as a juvenile probation officer in Alameda County before being called back to service during the Korean Conflict.

When he was released from active duty, he returned to UC Berkeley in 1953 as freshman coach under head coach Ky Ebright. He succeeded Ebright who retired in 1959.

From 1960 through 1966, Lemmon led Cal crews to three Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles. In addition, his crews were finalists in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic trials. During this time, he also served as assistant athletic director.

But Lemmon chose to leave sports to launch an administrative career, assuming the position of dean of men.

In his 1989 book, "The Log of Rowing," a history of crew teams at Cal from 1870 to 1987, Lemmon wrote about his decision:

"To step down from coaching, especially as the varsity crew coach at Cal, one of the top jobs in sports in the country, was a very difficult decision. I had been remarkably successful in seven short years...

"As it turned out, the pressures and confrontations of the 'six-year war' of the mid-60s on the Berkeley campus were far beyond anything I had withstood in the heat of rowing competition. To stand shoulder to shoulder with Arleigh Williams, Dean of Students, during this period was as rewarding and demanding an experience as I have had in my entire career."

During the 1960s, Lemmon also served as president of the Western Intercollegiate Crew Coaches Association. And, following his retirement from UC Berkeley, he became secretary of the Big C Alumni Association, an organization of former Cal athletes.

In 1991 Lemmon was inducted into UC Berkeley's California Athletic Hall of Fame.

Lemmon is survived by his wife, Jean Rogers Lemmon, of Montclair; his daughter, Lee Stubbs, of Cedar Hill, Texas; her husband, Bob, and their two children, Jeff and Rebecca; his daughter, Peggy Kline, of Santa Clara; her husband, Gerry, and their two children, Joshua and Dan. He is also survived by a special "niece," Sally VanEtten of Montclair.

Donations may be sent to the Friends of Cal Men's Crew, which Lemmon helped established during the 1960s as an endowment fund to support UC Berkeley crew teams. Checks should be made out to "UC Regents/Jim Lemmon Memorial Fund" and mailed to Bear Backers, UC Berkeley, 2223 Fulton, Berkeley, CA 94720.

A celebration of Lemmon's life will take place at 7: 30 p.m. tonight (Friday , Jan. 29) at UC Berkeley's Faculty Club. For more information, contact Stephen Gladstone, director of rowing, at (510) 642-3701.

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