James Joseph “Joe” McFarland died Friday, November 12, 2021 at Edencrest in Norwalk. No services will be held. A celebration of Joe’s life was held previously. He will be laid to rest in the spring in Nebraska.
James Joseph McFarland was born on April 26, 1936, on a farm in Dawson County, Nebraska to George Earl and Effie Maria (Snurr) McFarland.
Joe graduated from Sumner High School in 1954 before attending Kearney State Teacher’s College in Kearney, Nebraska, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Education.
On May 31, 1958, Joe married Cherie Lou Rumbeck of Amherst, Nebraska at the Methodist Church in Amherst. They had four children—Kim, Michael, Thomas, and Patrick.
Cherie and Joe made their home in Callaway, North Platte and Cozad where Joe taught for ten years. They moved to Ida Grove, Iowa in 1968 and they moved to Osceola, Iowa for five years. In 1974 they moved their family to Norwalk. Joe retired from teaching in 1998 and continued to live in Norwalk until February 2018 when Cherie passed away from cancer.
Joe was an avid fisherman and hunter, and golf was a hobby where he spent hours in his lifetime.
While at Norwalk, Joe coached many different sports: football, basketball and track and field, and he spent three years as the assistant girls’ softball coach. Joe coached men’s and women’s basketball for seven years at Grand View College and was head baseball coach at Norwalk from 1974 until he retired in 1996.
Sumner, Nebraska native Joe McFarland was inducted into the Iowa Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010 and was inducted into the Norwalk Hall of Fame in September 2018. Joe amassed a record of 313 wins (and 196 losses) and his Norwalk teams won eleven conference championships, two sectional championships, four district championships and the 1982 state championship.
He resumed for one year at Diagonal, coaching girls’ basketball and won a district championship in baseball.
When Joe graduated in 1954, he was the Class D state long jump champion three times, ran on the record-breaking mile relay and a pole vault champion in 1953. Joe also played halfback on Sumner’s unbeaten football team in 1954. At Kearney State College, he was a four-year letterman in track and football, earning the all-Nebraska Collegiate Conference honors while playing halfback on a 9-0 team of 1956. He also won two NCC pole vault titles.
Joe was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Cherie, and his brother Wayne.
Joe will be lovingly remembered by his children, Kim (Dave) Butler of Indianola, Michael (Penny) of Azel, Texas, Thomas (Rhonda) of Meridian, Idaho, and Patrick (LeAnn) of New Virginia; grandchildren, Aron, Dan, Andrew, Tim, Cole, Tyler, Shawn and Garrett; great grand-children Zelda, Isaac, Sammy and Juliet.
Memorial donations in Joe’s name may be made to Norwalk High School Sports or Hospice of the Midwest.
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