Posted February 3, 1999
Jim Lemmon, retired administrator and coach who led Cal crews to three national titles during the early 1960s, died Jan. 25 following heart problems. He was 79.
Lemmon retired from 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, director of rowing. "They were very aggressive racers, and I think that reflected a lot of Jim's spirit."
Born in 1919 in Denver and raised in Long Beach, Calif., Lemmon graduated from Berkeley in 1946 following a three-year tour of duty in World War II, during which he flew 51 air combat missions.
Lemmon worked for five years as a juvenile probation officer in Alameda County. He returned to Berkeley in 1953 as freshman coach, and became head coach in 1959.
From 1960 through 1966, Lemmon led Cal crews to three Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles. His crews were also finalists in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic trials.
But Lemmon chose to leave sports to launch an administrative career, assuming the position of dean of men.
In his 1989 history of crew teams at Cal, "The Log of Rowing," 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."
During the 1960s, Lemmon also served as president of the Western Intercolleiate Crew Coaches Association. In 1991 he was inducted into campus's California Athletic Hall of Fame.
Lemmon is survived by his wife, Jean Rogers Lemmon, of Montclair; his daughter, Lee Stubbs, of Cedar Hill, Tex.; her husband, Bob, and their two children; his daughter, Peggy Kline, of Santa Clara; her husband, Gerry, and their two children; and a special "niece," Sally VanEtten of Montclair.
Donations in his memory may be sent to Friends of Cal Men's Crew, which Lemmon helped establish. Checks should be made out to "UC Regents/Jim Lemmon Memorial Fund" and mailed to Bear Backers, UC Berkeley, 2223 Fulton St.
A celebration of Lemmon's life was held Jan. 29 at the Faculty Club.For information, contact Stephen Gladstone, director of rowing, at 642-3701.