James “Jimmy” Walthall, who died Feb. 22 in Lafayette, Ga., was a three-sport standout of the 1940s at West Virginia University.
The Princeton native earned seven letters in football, basketball and baseball. He excelled in all three sports.
Walthall, who was 85, also served as an assistant coach in football under the late Gene Corum in the 1960s.
After playing as a freshman on varsity teams in 1944, Walthall served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Then he returned to WVU and competed in 1947-48-49.
Among his most memorable achievements was a 28-27 upset victory at Penn State in 1944. And he tamed the Nittany Lions almost single-handedly and he was just a freshman.
Walthall also guided the Mountaineers to a 17-2 win against Pitt in 1947 at Pittsburgh. That was the late Bill Kern’s final game as head coach. He had told his players before the game that he had resigned.
Walthall also engineered, under head coach Dr. Doug DeGroat, a 21-12 victory over Texas Western in the Jan. 1, 1949, Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas. That capped a 9-3 season.
In all, Walthall posted a four-year football record of 24-16-2.
He played only two years of basketball under the late Lee Patton, who also had coached Walthall at Princeton High School.
The late Ira Errett Rodgers was his coach in baseball. That was his senior year of 1949. He helped his team to a 13-8 record.
As an assistant coach in football, he was responsible for those at the backfield positions.
Walthall spent some 30 years coaching and teaching in various high schools in Georgia, where he resided after retiring.
He was so outstanding in sports at Princeton High that the West Virginia Sports Writers Association twice voted him State Amateur Athlete of the Year.
Walthall was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. However, he was unable to attend because of illness.
He was also named to the school’s all-time team for the period of 1940-49.