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Eulogy for James Auch September 9,2023


Photo by Aaron Burden



Eulogy at the Celebration of the Life

Of James Mauer Auch, Jr


The Reverend James R. Squire, Hon.

The Class of 1944 Chapel at the Episcopal Academy

September 9, 2023


Proverbs 29:18


There is one verse in scripture that I feel summarizes the life of Jim Auch, Father, husband, friend, teacher, coach advisor to students as well as his many other roles. It is found in the Biblical wisdom literature in the book of Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”


If we shortened this verse to just two words, they would be game plan.


A Game plan is a vision. Jim had a game plan that translated to a life of purpose and meaning. It could be seen in the way that he walked in a very deliberate fashion around a practice field as well as at a game. Game plans are more about action than words. When we think about it if the best team in the league only had one play no matter how good they were, they would lose. A game plan is essential in life as well.


Coach Auch was not Knute Rockne. There were no win one for the Gipper motivational speeches for his players. I was in the locker room before many of Jim’s games as he and the players asked for prayers beforehand. What Jim did talk about was the responsibility of each of the players and their role in achieving victory, the game plan! Granted sometimes he would get their names wrong, but he looked them each directly in the eye.


I was frequently invited to the football team’s sports dinner. Jim knew his team well and would make a personal comment about each of them. I think I saw him get choked up a few times. He was a man of rich and deep devotion.


Game plan! Teacher! When Jim had a Sabbatical, he chose the hard road to go back to school and relearn advanced calculus so that he could teach it to his students. He wanted to bring something back with him to the school. Jim chose to teach math. I believe that he chose that course of study because it fit his personality. It was methodical and drove forward until the answer was the reward, the win if you will!


Without a vision, the people perish!


Game Plan! He was EA’s version of a real estate magnate. Jim changed homes like the phases of the moon. But he was always moving to a new place better and more valuable than the last. Since I knew that he was a student of real estate, I asked Jim’s counsel when I was about to buy a property on the Chesapeake Bay. He could tell that I was a bit hesitant to make that step, but he repeatedly said, “Get in now! There is no better time than the present!” When I told him that he seemed to have strong feelings about me doing this, he got that “cat that ate the mouse” smile on his face and told me: “Get in! I want to know someone else is up in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage.”


Game plan! Our Development Office during Jim’s time may have missed a golden opportunity because Jim, Dan Dougherty, and I had lunch together often. Jim and Dan were like standup comics. Jim was Dan’s straight man. Dan’s constant banter about Jim was hilarious partly because Jim could laugh at himself. He was perceived by others as too serious, but Dan could bring that laughter out in him. Dan could get away with the banter because everyone knew the high regard Dan had for Jim as a coach and fellow member of the math department. Jim also supported his teams on a legendary practical joke. The rookies would be assigned to turn on the lights on the practice field so that practice could continue. So, the rookies would head to the scoreboard and look around for the light switch. There were no light switch or lights.


But I have saved his two most important roles for last! Husband and father. I do have to say that it made me proud to be a human being watching how Jeff and Jamie responded to their mother’s and father’s final days and deaths as well as how they were in constant contact with one another to care for their parents. During Jim’s hospital stays, both guys thought that their dad needed more care than they sensed was offered so they moved Jim to Jeff’s home. Their care was palpable. You venture with peril if you get between those two sons and what is best for their mom and dad.


Penny was the Ying to Jim’s Yang. She was ebullient with that wonderful smile that lit up a room. She flourished as a teacher and so did her students. My oldest son was one of them so I could see her skills on a first-hand basis.


Game plan! When I talked with Jim after Penny’s death, he wanted me to know that he found the most talented oncologist in Boston to take care of her as she had a form of aggressive cancer that took her very quickly in spite of medical intervention. He shared all of the doctor’s credentials and seemed to say that he had the best game plan possible for her. That game plan was a great source of solace for him and for his sons.


Can you imagine a game plan providing solace just as it does when a team gives everything they have and still is not victorious.


The last time I had prayer with Jim when he was at Jeff’s and in the final throws of life, he surprised me by grabbing my hand to hold it, but with a firm grasp that made its way through his perceived weakness. His face lit up with a smile like a sunrise. I said, “Jim, you still have it! Your strength is here.” Again, he smiled like he knew something that could not be communicated with words for he never spoke.


Game plan! I believe that what he was communicating without words but by action was I “know where I am going! I am not afraid! I am going to another shore. I am going to my eternal home.


I know this is where Jim now rests with his Lord, Penny, and family and friends for “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Because of his vision, Jim thrived! Simply but profoundly because in his life and death, he had a game plan, a vision that would never perish!


God bless you Jim and Penny!


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