James Franklyn Pangle passed away at 8:15pm on Thursday, Nov. 3 after a long battle with neuropathy and dementia. He was 92 years and 2 months and 12 days old.
James was born on Aug. 24, 1930, to James Calvin Pangle and Elsie Murray Pangle. He had a well-documented pedigree and was the first cousin, six times removed, of the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
James was also related to Chief Justice John Marshall, Confederate General Basil Wilson Duke, and was the fourth cousin, five times removed of General Robert E. Lee.
He was a 1948 graduate of Etowah High School, where he was a star basketball and football player for the Etowah Pile Drivers and was the captain of both teams. He was always the high scorer on the basketball team and was a star right guard on the football team.
With two games left in his senior year, the football coach moved James to wingback. He scored almost every time he touched ball! As a result, Tennessee Wesleyan offered him a scholarship as a college wingback. He accepted the offer and played there successfully as the starting wingback for Wesleyan bulldogs.
At the end of his senior year as a basketball player at Etowah High, James was picked to attend the Volunteer Boys State competition to compete at many athletic events. He scored 72 of 80 points in the game - just four points shy all time state record!
While competing - even though he had never done it before – James set the state broad jump record, only to be surpassed a few minutes later by a Memphis athlete. Due to this unusual situation, James holds the shortest standing record in the history of the state!
Later in 1948, the Etowah Lions Club hosted the girls and boys basketball teams at the club’s meeting to honor them for record season. The hit of the event was James, who did several impromptu impersonations of actors of the time. He was elected “Best All Around Boy” in the class of 1948 by the faculty and was presented with a special watch from Copenhaver’s Jewelry in Etowah.
While in high school, James escorted the homecoming queen during his senior year.
James graduated Tennessee Wesleyan with an associate degree in physical education in June of 1950. Upon graduation, James received one of the greatest surprises of his life when he saw the name “Franklin” on his degree and his parents told him that was actually his middle name. He had grown up always believing his middle name was Frank.
In October of 1950, he married Ruby Albritton - the love of his life.
After college graduation, James entered the Korean Conflict and joined the United States Air Force for 4 years. During this time, he and Ruby were stationed at Manson Air Force Base in Kent, England, where James finished as an E-5 Sergeant First Class.
Whilst In England, James was the player coach of the Air Force basketball team. When it came time for him transfer to Holland, the Air Force allowed James to stay behind and continue his coaching duties.
Upon completion of his Air Force service in 1955, James returned to Etowah and began working at Bowater as a millwright. He worked there for 37 years and eventually retired as a supervisor of the mechanical department.
In his spare time, James became a TSSAA basketball and football referee where he served for many years. He was also the President of the Chestuee Golf and Country Club.
While a referee, James called games in basketball and football where Cleveland’s Steve Sloan was playing.
In 1993, James was honored by being named as a member of the Athens Basketball Officials Association Hall of Fame, where he joined previous well-known members like Bob “Dirty Deal” and Cleveland’s Norman “Shorty” Jordan.
James is survived by his wife of 72 years, Ruby Albritton Pangle and two daughters: Susan Pangle Cooper of Woodbridge, Virginia and Janie Pangle Jones (Allan) of Cleveland, Tennessee. His grandchildren are: Abby Jones of Lexington, KY, Will Jones (Katie), J. Bailey Jones (Ellen), and Courtney Jones Pendergrass (Chris) – all of Cleveland, and Jennifer Cooper Edelen, Michael Edelen, and James Andrew Cooper – all of Lakeridge, Virginia. He had two one great-granddaughters, Harper Quinn Jones and Gincy Pendergrass.
He was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Etowah.
A graveside service will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2pm at Green Hills Cemetery in Etowah, located at 1820 US 411 Highway. The service will be conducted by Rev. Jerry Everly, a past pastor at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Cleveland. Everly also married James’ daughter Janie to Allan Jones in 1983 and married James’ grandson, Will, to Katie Simpkins in 2017.
We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the Pangle family guestbook at www.ralphbuckner.com.
Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of the arrangements.