James E. Mayer Jr., 84, “Coach” passed peacefully into the arms of his Savior on September 16, 2023, eager to meet his Heavenly Father that he spoke so much about over the years. The last year of his life was spent away from the tennis courts he had held so dearly and missed spending time with his H.E.B. Tennis Center crew for his weekly match-ups on “Coach’s Corner.” The family grieves his passing, yet rejoices in his freedom knowing he is playing tennis on courts of gold in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Coach is survived by his wife, Ann Wadette Mayer; his children John Edward Mayer (Ellen), Mary Jane Hetrick (Tom), Janine Marie Campbell (Jason) and his siblings John F. Mayer and JoBelle Fischer. Coach was so proud of all his grandchildren, Johnny & Matthew Mayer, sons of John & Ellen; Taylor, Mitchell and Trevor, children of Mary Jane & Tom; and James K., son of Janine & Jason.
Coach was born in San Antonio, TX on April 26, 1939 to Josephine Elizabeth Burns and James E. Mayer. Most of his upbringing was surrounded by his cousins and siblings as they found fun and trouble along the Frio Canyon and “Robber’s Roost,” the family ranch. He tried out basketball and football before ultimately falling in love with the game of tennis, he says, “because my brother loved it so much.” He went on to graduate from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech. It was at the University of Houston that he met his wife of 58 years and started their life together. It was in Houston that they attended their beloved Berachah Church and became immersed in biblical doctrine studies by R.B. Thieme Jr. Ministries. This ministry provided the framework & literature that up until a week before he closed his eyes, he would eagerly share with anyone he came in contact with. “To know Coach is to have been witnessed to.”
The last 25 years of his life pivoted from teaching to retired life and a more permanent fixture and staple of the Harlingen tennis community. Every opportunity to share wisdom both on and off the courts he selflessly stepped up and ensured his blessings could bless others. All he engaged in was based in the belief that God led the way and tried to glorify his Father in Heaven, often saying that, “There is none good but God and there is no non-God good.”
The Mayer family is grateful to the amazing care Coach received from his caregivers and those who continually came by to encourage and support him and rallied around him when the courts beckoned. We are also grateful to his new found church community at Valley Praise and the groups he found joy in when tennis was no longer an option.
The memorial service will be held Saturday, September 30, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. at Valley Praise Church, 1927 W. Jefferson, Harlingen, TX followed by a Celebration of Life Reception at HEB Tennis Center 1613 Morgan Blvd., Harlingen, TX.
Coach has chosen those close friends to serve as pallbearers when the time came. Jon Anderson, Armando Garcia, Don Van Ramshorst and David Lopez. He also wished to list his honorary pallbearers as his grandsons, Johnny, Matthew, Mitchell, Trevor and James.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the newly formed “Mayer-Elliff Tennis Foundation” to help continue his work in “making tennis great again in Harlingen.”
Checks can be sent to 126 Brentwood Drive, Harlingen, TX 78550
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