Wednesday, September 17, 2014
For decades, James Ed Staggs has been a fixture at the Texas City Independent School District.
He began his career in the district in 1950 as a teacher and football coach, and served for 21 years on the Texas City ISD Board of Trustees.
Last month, the active 90-year-old’s contributions received permanent recognition when the James Ed Staggs Field House was named in his honor during the halftime ceremony of the Texas City-Friendswood game. “I was surprised, but it was a great honor,” said Staggs. “I saw the school district go from a small, good school district, to a large, great school district. “During those years, I was able to hand all my four kids their high school diplomas.”
After serving in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division during World War II, Staggs returned to Kilgore Junior College where he joined the football team. He later received a scholarship to attend the University of Houston.
His venture south to Texas City began with the help of legendary University of Houston Coach Clyde Lee in 1950. Lee served as head football coach at UH from 1948-1954, guiding the Cougars to a 37–32–2 record.
“When they interviewed me for my first job at Texas City, Coach Lee came down and talked to (school officials) on my behalf,” Staggs said. “Football has been good to me and my family.”
During his tenure at Texas City ISD, Staggs helped build Stingaree football into a powerhouse program recognized throughout the state. He also founded the annual Battle of the Bay matchup between Texas City and La Marque and attends just about every Stingaree game.
“The year before I became coach in 1950, Baytown (High School) beat Texas City (by a score of) 60 to 6,” said Staggs, who lives in Texas City with wife, Julia.
“After about 10 years, we were able to beat Baytown. I helped build the program.”
Julia Staggs, who is wheelchair-bound because of a stroke, also attended the halftime ceremony on Aug. 29 along with their daughter Maurita, her husband Stephen Parker and their three sons and son, Ed Jr.
Nine community members proposed that the field house be named after Staggs, said Melissa Tortorici, TCISD spokesperson. “Because of Coach Staggs’ service to the students and community of Texas City ISD, the board of trustees was happy to approve the proposal,” she said. “He has proven to be a role model throughout his 64 years in Texas City and we can’t think of a better way to recognize him than to name the field house in his honor. Coach Staggs is still a season ticket holder for Stingaree football and his name will forever be ingrained in our players’ minds just as it has been in the hearts of all the players and students he taught and coached.
Staggs’ commitment to teaching and coaching youths has never wavered. “I always tried to teach our kids and to be fair,” he said. “I just wanted all of our kids to do what is right – to go to school, study, make good grades and ‘don’t just be in athletics, but be a part of the school district.’ ”
If a youth got in trouble, he said, “We’d always try to help them. They need someone to advise them, to get them on the right track again. “But if they’re doing what they should be doing, then they’re not going to be in trouble.” Joe Vickery, a former student of Staggs’ who went on to serve 38 years with the Galveston County Health District, credits his former coach with keeping him on track.
“If it wasn’t for Ed Staggs, I probably would not have finished school and probably wouldn’t be where I’m at,” Vickery said. “He helped me, encouraged me, he was a great role model and he just sort of kicked me along. If I slowed down a little bit he gave me a little boost.
Vickery said that Staggs was “more interested in the young men who played ball under him and their lives and integrity, than the score. He lived that way. He was an example.
“He said that learning how to lose is just as important as winning and learning how to win.”
Please keep the family of Ed Staggs in your thoughts and prayers with the passing of long time Rotarian Ed Staggs on August 7th. Ed was a member of the club for over 47 years. He joined the club January 15, 1971.
The visitation will be held on Monday, August 13 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Emken-Linton Funeral Home in Texas City. The Celebration of Life will be held at Emken-Linton Funeral Home on Tuesday, August 14 at 10:00 a.m. and officiated by Rev. Dr. Richard T. Kleiman. Graveside service will be held at the Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas.