Wednesday, February 20, 2013

James Earl Boatwright

An All-American-Israeli basketball legend, James Earl Boatwright, 61, of Hailey, Idaho, passed away on Feb. 11, 2013.

He was born on Dec. 10, 1951, to William Earl and Joyce Estes Boatwright in Twin Falls, Idaho. Jim graduated from Minico High School in 1970, where he was an all-state basketball star, leading the Spartans to back-to-back state championship games in 1969 and 1970. Jim’s high school honors include being named a Sunkist All-American and a Top 10 High School Player in America. He participated in the prestigious Dapper Dan Classic in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was inducted into the Idaho Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jim played at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and was voted as one of the Top 25 Athletes of the Century at USU. Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1974.

Jim joined the European Professional Basketball League and played eight years for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel. Jim led Maccabi to the European Championship in 1977 over the Soviet Union team. The victory was significant and had tremendous symbolic value for Israel during the height of the Cold War. Boatwright became a full Israeli citizen and was selected as a member of the 1980 Israeli Olympic basketball team. 

Jim taught and coached in several states and then married his love, Jennifer Magrane. The Boatwrights returned to the Gem State 10 years ago, teaching and coaching at Hailey’s Wood River High School. On the court, or in the classroom, Jim’s passions were infectious to all who knew him.

He is preceded in death by his father, William Earl Boatwright; his mother, Betty Joyce Boatwright; and his son, Daniel James Boatwright.

Jim is survived by his wife, Jennifer Magrane Boatwright of Hailey; his three daughters, Kate Whitlock of Farmington, Ct., Sarah Irish (Andy), of Marysville, Wash., and Rebecca Bechtell (Kelly) of Portland, Ore.; two brothers, Mark Boatwright of Rupert, Idaho, David Boatwright (Katie) of Brigham City, Utah; and a sister, Linda Govan, of Kuna, Idaho. Jim had four grandchildren, Aidan Whitlock, Hadley Whitlock, Ryan Irish and Caleb Irish.

Arrangements are under the care of Wood River Chapel. Graveside service will be held at the Rupert Cemetery on Friday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. for family, and a celebration of life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. at the Community Campus auditorium in Hailey.

Friends and family are invited to leave condolences and share memories or stories at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jim Boatwright Scholarship Fund for students in care of the Blaine County Education Foundation, Box 253, Hailey, ID 83333 or call 208-578-5449.

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