Beloved booster remembered for his tenacity, generosity

COSTA MESA — Jim Scott, a passionate Costa Mesa schools booster who led projects that included a new football stadium at Estancia High School, died Saturday of heart failure, his son, Jim Scott Jr., said Thursday.

He was 85.

A private memorial service was held for Scott on Wednesday in Corona del Mar. A service for the community is still being planned, with no time or date confirmed yet, Scott Jr. said.

Scott was known for his tenacity and persistence in getting facilities constructed at Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools. Estancia's football stadium is named after him.

Scott was also known for many feats and for his affiliation with Estancia, many who knew him said. He was like just one of the Eagles.

Yet he was also described as a pit bull — tenacious, yet loveable.

All the traits that made him were instrumental in having Estancia's new stadium and a new 50-meter pool at Costa Mesa High.

"He was a special guy," said Estancia Principal Kirk Bauermeister, a former baseball coach at Costa Mesa. "I'm not sure if anyone in our community has had more influence than him over the last 40 or 50 years."

Scott started his dream of having a football stadium built at Estancia and a pool at Costa Mesa in 1996. It was reported that he walked into then-Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Robert Barbot's office and presented a $100 bill. Scott told Barbot it was the first contribution toward a new stadium at Estancia.

Over the next decade, Scott worked tirelessly gathering support in the community and generating funds to make his dream a reality.

Jim Scott Stadium was built in 2008. Costa Mesa High's pool opened this school year.

"His legacy was the beneficiary for all athletes in this city," said school board Trustee Katrina Foley, who worked with Scott on Costa Mesa United, a group that helped fundraise for the facilities. "He knew that a stadium and the pool would transform our high schools and our community.

"And they did. We'll miss him."

Scott began as an Estancia supporter, when his two daughters and two sons attended the Westside school on Placentia Avenue. He remained a booster even after his youngest graduated in 1981.

The Scott family established the Battle for the Bell series, the games between Estancia and Costa Mesa in football, boys' and girls' basketball, and baseball. The series' winners are treated to a free dinner at Newport Rib Co.

"The Scott family has helped create many memories," said Costa Mesa High School Principal Phil D'Agostino, also a former Estancia principal. "We're always going to be grateful for the type of selflessness he exuded toward our schools and our community."

D'Agostino was principal at Estancia when Jim Scott Stadium opened and principal at Costa Mesa for the opening ceremony for its pool. He cherishes those memories.

"I'll never forget the day that the stadium opened and there were dignitaries and architects present. And, there was Jim Scott in his Estancia letterman jacket," D'Agostino said. "Not many principals get to open a stadium and an aquatics center. Those times are really special and that Jim Scott helped is something that, as an administrator, I'll never forget."

Before suffering a stroke in 2006, Scott was a fixture at high school games, usually sporting his Estancia letterman jacket and red fishing hat. He had an aggressiveness to him and spoke with a tone that commanded respect, Bauermeister said.

Scott's stroke, however, left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. But he had already made an impact at the schools.

When the Scott family treated the winning athletes to the rib dinner, Scott made a habit of advising the youth to "have a firm handshake and always look into the eyes of the person you're talking to," Bauermeister said.

"He was old school," Bauermeister added. "The kid kids loved him and they loved his speeches. He was like your favorite grandpa."

Scott's private services featured various stories that told parts of his life, Scott Jr. said.

Those in attendance received Bazooka bubble gum, A&W Root Beer and a Snickers bar. Scott Jr. said his father would give out the gum and usually had the candy bar at games. His favorite drink was the root beer.

He was certainly a character, Scott Jr. said.

During the service, "The Yellow Rose of Texas," was sung. Scott was born and raised in Tulia, a small northern Texas town south of Amarillo.

Scott, a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, attended North Texas State University (today the University of North Texas), where he earned a bachelor's degree in industrial arts and a master's in administration. He was a yell leader, a part of the spirit team who cheered at football games. He was known for doing a standing back flip before yelling.

He also worked as a high school football coach for one year in Canyon, Texas.

He later worked in the aerospace industry in Dallas, where he met his wife, Joan. Scott held seven patents and moved to Costa Mesa because he was transferred for work, his son said.

Scott started Seco Seals, a company that made gaskets for airplanes, rockets and submarines. As a young man, he helped develop conical seals for America's space program.

He was even featured in the Daily Pilot in 1999, when he shared the story of acquiring Sputnik's signals with his ham radio.

Scott lived a life with few limits, always wanting to accomplish his goals, Scott Jr. said.

Scott wanted others to achieve all that they could, too. When he wanted to get the job done, he worked aggressively, his son said.

"He was always pushing the envelope for trying to make things happen," Scott Jr. said. "He was quite active and never bashful. If he was at a meeting, you would know he would be there."

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family is asking for donations to be sent to the Costa Mesa Community Athletic Foundation, 1700 Adams Ave., Suite No. 200, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

Jim Scott is survived by his wife, Joan; his son, Jim Scott Jr.; his two daughters, Marilyn Scott Waters and Susan Scott Caldwell; and three grandchildren, Joel, Elise and Jacqueline.

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