Legendary EP Townie and LaSalle Coach Jim Deffley Dies
Legendary football coach and educator, Jim Deffley, 90, has died. Deffley led the EP Townies before moving on to LaSalle Academy and later Cumberland High. He was recently honored with Townie legend Bill Stringfellow while commemorating the 75th year of Pierce Stadium in East Providence.
The 2014 EP-LaSalle football game was the 86th contest between the two rivals. The state's longest standing rivalry on Thanksgiving officially began in 1929. Although the two schools started turkey day play in 1927 (EP won 6-0), there was no game in 1928 and the league “started” in 1929 with a LaSalle 19-6 win.
But the story of the day in 2014 was the half time ceremony celebrating Pierce Stadium's 75th anniversary. A half time extravaganza honoring players from both schools from the 1940's through the 2000's. Townie athletic director at the time, Bob Duarte and Pierce Field Manager Joe Medeiros organized the gala presentation. A Player from each decade was brought out to the field, culminating with the introduction of the Townies Bill Stringfellow and LaSalle's Jim Deffley.
Strinfellow, a Townie legend and Deffley coached East Providence and then LaSalle. The two former nemeses embraced and exchanged memories as the crowd loved it. Townie great Junior Butler brought along a couple of letters that he received in 1967 from his former coach, Jim Deffley. At that time Deffley coached the Townies. They were letters of support sent to Butler when he was serving combat time in Vietnam. "I've saved these all these years," said an appreciative Butler at that 2014 game. "Wow, I can't believe that you still have those letters after all this time," Jim Deffley told Butler. "Amazing."
"This was very rewarding," said former Townie great QB Jim Rose. "One of the best Thanksgiving games I've attended," he added. Rose like many others have attended more turkey day games than they care to add up. Regardless of the scoreboard, most Townies went home with a warm feeling and a good appetite for turkey and next year's game.
Deffley graduated from La Salle Academy in 1944 where he played basketball and football for 3 years. He was a football Captain and was selected All-State.
He was a WWII veteran serving with the 45th Division under General George Patton during The Battle of the Bulge.
He was a 1949 graduate of Holy Cross where he also excelled in football. He was an "all letters winner" while at Holy Cross.
Deffley was a teacher and head football coach at East Providence High from 1953 -1971. His Townie football teams compiled a 121-32-8 record, as well as 3 undefeated seasons and 5 state championships.
After coaching and teaching at East Providence High School Coach Deffley then went to LaSalle where he coached the Rams through 1975 . His assistant coach at EP, Bill "Beansey" Stringfellow, was named the new Townie head coach. Stringfellow's Townies won a couple of back to back state championships and a great rivalry became greater.
Deffley finished out his high school coaching career at Cumberland High School from 1976 to 1982 where his teams had a 47-12-1 record.
He was inducted into the LaSalle Hall of Fame, and he was called a "Devoted teacher, role model and very successful football coach at East Providence High School," at his LSA induction ceremony. He was also inducted into the Rhode Island Coaches Hall of Fame.
The East Providence, LaSalle and Cumberland High communities mourn his passing as does all of Rhode Island sports fans. At one point Deffley was also the "stern" summertime beach manager at Sand Hill Cove beach in Narragansett, RI.
Besides his wife, he is survived by four children, James Deffley, Jr and his wife Carol, Michael Deffley and his wife Christine, William Deffley and his wife Ann, and Mary Beth Winter; thirteen grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren. He was the grandfather of the late Mark Deffley and brother of the late John Deffley, Jr.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 am Friday in St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, 864 Pt. Judith Road, Narragansett. Burial with military honors will follow in the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Exeter. Visiting hours are respectfully omitted.