A UW Player's Final Encounter with Don James

Former offensive tackle Don Dow saw his old coach one last time at Husky Stadium.
Publish date:

At a newly remodeled Husky Stadium, Don Dow purchased eight season tickets for personal and business use, all located in front of the Don James Center, a prime viewing section.

Settling in for the inaugural game in the new digs on August 31, 2013, against Boise State and a coach named Chris Petersen, Dow, a former Husky starting offensive tackle, checked out his surroundings. He suddenly realized these coveted seats were even better than he anticipated.

Across the aisle was the legendary Don James, his Husky coach from 1979 to 1982.

"I sat down and looked to my right, and there's Coach James and Carol," Dow recalled. "I'm thinking this is going to be great."

Dow took a photo of the couple that accompanies this story. He then went over and exchanged heartfelt greetings with the James family, figuring this would become a regular game-day occurrence.

Owner of a Seattle-area event production company, the former UW lineman respected Don James as much as anyone he's known. He learned high-level organizational skills from this man and it enabled him to make his longstanding business a success.

A two-year starter up front, Dow played on James teams that advanced to a pair of Rose Bowls, a Sun Bowl and an Aloha Bowl, truly a golden era of Husky football excellence.

Sadly, Dow's stadium encounter with Don James in the Husky Stadium stands was a one-time thing. Not feeling well, the coach was diagnosed the following week with pancreatic cancer, informed it was a terminal illness. 

Fifty days following the Huskies' 38-6 throttling of Boise State and Petersen, the future Husky coach, James was 80 when he passed away at home in Kirkland, Washington.

Dow often thinks of his legendary leader and how he had that fleeting chance to speak with him eight years ago, a brief but unforgettable moment. The former player still sees Carol at games and makes sure to give her a hug. 

The photo he snapped might be the final one taken of Don James in public.

"Little did I know that would be the last time I would see Coach James," Dow said wistfully.

Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: HuskyMaven/Sports Illustrated

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven