For 13 years, J.W. Loudermilk was a force at Yukon High School, where it wasn’t unusual for his athletes to be seen running sprints up the hallways during frigid weather.
His “never quit” attitude was engrained in his athletes.
When he retired in 1988 after 13 years of walking the hallways and circling the track, Loudermilk had left an indelible mark on the school and its students.
A coach who also taught history, Loudermilk was a veteran of the Korean War and a graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He had a master’s degree in education.
Loudermilk died Monday following a lengthy illness. He was 86.
“He was a great teacher and coach,” said Canadian County Sheriff Chris West.
West ran long distance for Loudermilk during his senior year at Yukon High School.
“J.W. Loudermilk was like a father. You felt like he really cared about his students and athletes. He was loved and admired by many, and still is,” West said.
Aaron McRee, who was among Loudermilk’s athletes from 1977-79, agreed.
“Coach helped mold us into what we are today. It was his demeanor and his work ethic. He taught us to keep going and not to quit. He really did mold us into who we are,” McRee said.
McRee also said Loudermilk’s death is a great loss to the community of Yukon.
“To a lot of us, we considered him one of the school’s best teachers. He was not just a teacher, he was a mentor. He was someone you could look up to,” McRee said. “People like him are no longer around.”
West said Loudermilk didn’t have favorites.
“As a kid, there were a lot of coaches where you felt politics were involved. They would play favorites. I never saw him do that. It was like he took an interest in everyone and was interested in their lives and he cared about them,” West said. “He treated people fairly.”
Loudermilk was born Aug. 12, 1932, in Stigler, where he grew up.
His wife of 61 years, Barbara, said her husband attended two years of college at the University of Arkansas, where he played football.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served in the Korean War.
After being discharged, he returned to school at Southeastern, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education.
He taught history and driver’s ed at several schools in Oklahoma. He served as an assistant football coach as well as coached track and cross country.
His first job, in 1957, was in Idabel. He began his career less than a month after he and Barbara were married.
They moved to Yukon in 1975 after he served as a coach at Lawton Eisenhower.
“He liked everything about teaching. He liked the camaraderie of the students. There were no complaints,” Barbara Loudermilk said.
He served as a football coach in Atoka and Checotah, and then took control of cross country and track programs at other schools.
She said when her husband retired from his teaching and coaching positions, he missed the students so much that he continued to drive a school bus for several more years.
“He missed it, but we moved on,” she said.
“We were never bored. He had a membership at a gym and worked out some. He did our own lawn until just a few years ago. We had lot of friends to visit with. We just enjoyed retirement,” Barbara said.
Much of the couple’s summers were spent following their grandson as he played summer baseball.
In addition to his wife, Loudermilk is survived by two daughters, Cara Shelton and Jana McPherson, as well as two grandchildren Trevor and Carson McPherson.
A celebration of Loudermilk’s life will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Yanda and Son’s Funeral Home chapel.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Yukon Public Schools Foundation for Excellence, P.O. Box 850295, Yukon, OK 73085 or Good Shepherd Hospice, 4350 Will Rogers Parkway, Suite 400 Oklahoma City, OK 73108.