James Robert Chafin was born in Albertville, Alabama on April 1, 1928. He passed peacefully into the presence of His Lord on June 27, 2020.
James attended Jacksonville State University where he starred on the football team. While a student there, he met Joan Hackney from Anniston and they were soon married. They remained husband and wife for 69 years.
James served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama where he coached the military athletic teams. He devoted many years of his life to teaching and coaching high school students and athletes in Alabama.
Coach Chafin impacted thousands of lives of students. In 1954 he went to Sidney Lanier High School in Montgomery as assistant football coach and head baseball coach. His baseball team won the state championship that first year. In 1955 Robert E. Lee High School opened its doors and Coach Chafin served as head baseball coach and assistant football coach. During this 11-year period Lee compiled of record of 95-12-5 winning five state championships. In 1966 he became the head football coach and compiled a record of 51-13-2, In 1969 the Lee team won the state championship at Legion Field defeating Berry High School in front of 26,000 fans. The Lee team was back the following year to win back-to-back state championships. Under his leadership, the Lee Generals would eventually stretch their win streak to 32 games and Jim Chafin was named # 1 High School Coach in Alabama. He also coached state championship wrestling teams. He was head coach of the South All Stars in 1970. He served that same year as President of the State Coaches Association
He had numerous offers to move into college coaching but always felt that God had called him to touch the lives of high school athletes.
He left coaching to become the first supervisor of Physical Education and Athletics for Montgomery County.
Not only did Coach Chafin produce some of the Alabama’s greatest football players, he influenced many coaches of the next generation. Former player, Spence McCraken, who starred at Auburn and later coached at Opelika High School, said, “I’ve never known a man as consistent living his life the right way as Coach Chafin. I learned to coach by watching him teach. I am a better man because of him.”
After a brief retirement from public education, he began his second career. In 1982 he became Athletic Director for Trinity Presbyterian School. He spent eleven years building that program from scratch. When he left in 1992 Trinity had one of the strongest athletic programs in the state.
Coach Chafin was inducted into the Alabama High School Coaching Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. In 1993 he was named to the Montgomery Area Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame in 1995. He was selected as Jacksonville State University Distinguished Award Honoree in 1995. He was awarded the Alabama Football Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He was also inducted into the Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jim Chafin was raised in a Christian home and served the Lord faithfully. He served as a Deacon at Morningview Baptist Church in Montgomery for many years. He was a Sunday School teacher for more than 50 years. Hundreds of former students and players in Alabama remember him fondly.
The Chafins moved to Tyler, Texas in 2013 to be closer to family. They were active members of Green Acres Baptist Church.
Coach Chafin suffered a stroke in May of 2018. The family would like to expressed gratitude for the staff of Atria Copeland and Meadow Lakes Health Center for the loving care they provided Coach Chafin in his last years and days.
He is loved and remembered fondly by his family, Joanie Chafin, wife.
Cindy Dykes, daughter, and her husband David. Son, Jim Chafin, Jr., granddaughter, Jenni Holman and husband, Jason and granddaughter, Laura Grace Dykes. Grandson, Robby Chafin and wife Erin. He had six great-children, Lizzie Holman, Caroline Holman, Ada Liner, Grant Holman, Cecilia Chafin, and Robert Chafin.
There will be a private graveside burial on Tuesday morning, followed by a Memorial Service at the Chapel of Green Acres Baptist Church at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, June 30. Visitation with the family will follow the Memorial Service.