James Tomlin

Profile Updated: November 17, 2020
Class of 1961
Residing In: Irvine, CA USA
Spouse/Partner: Sheila Fischer since 1966 55rdth Anniversary approaching
Children, Grandchildren: Jeffrey born 1967 All CIF Water Polo, Navy Waterpolo, Captain US Navy Neurosurgeon, Norfolk Naval Hospital

Matt More…born 1970 All CIF Soccer, Navy Soccer, former US Navy SEAL, now in cell phone industry

Sarah born 1981, Villanova Graduate interior designer

Margaret 26 Sony Music Nashville
Fiona 24 Veterans for American Ideals, Washington DC
Charlie 22 Sophomore San Diego City
Sheila 19 Freshman Bucknell

Samantha 23
Tyler 19 Sophomore Colorado University
Trey 16 Junior Regis High School, Denver

Emily 19 Freshman Moorpark JC
Andrew 16 Junior Simi Valley HS
Occupation title: teacher/coach retired
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James C Tomlin

Occupation/Career(s) Details:

Head Varsity Track Coach 1977-1989 99-6-5 Nine Varsity League Championships, 5 CIF Top 5s

Also coached football, soccer & basketball

Taught social studies, and advanced placement us history. Program grew from 22 in 1992-3 to 125 in 2006 with 90% passing rate

Different places I have lived:

South Pasadena 1947-1965
Redlands, 1961-65
Hemet, 1965-1969
Willamantic, Con 1969-1970
Costa Mesa 1970-1973
Irvine 1973-2020

Family history living in South Pasadena:

My parents separated in 1946, moved to SP to live with aunt and uncle in 1947. Went through SP Schools K-12. My lucky life not to have grown up in Philadelphia

Elementary school and junior high/middle school(s) that I attended.

Las Flores Elementary
Marengo Elementary
Marengo Elementary @ SPJH
SP Junior High
SP High School

Family members who also went to SPHS:

Andrew and Sheila Gafvert

Other SPHS graduates I keep in touch with:

Marty Gafvert, Bill Little, Kent Warner, Dave Moore, Mary Gill, Felix Gutierrez, Tom Bernard, Jeff Howe, Dolores Brown, Rob Feder, Al Kinser, Roger Clark, Ray Solari, Ken Swift, Craig Brewerton, Marjorie Buck, John Ludlow, Jan Newcomer, Bill Purves, Dick Maryatt

School Memories:

Homecoming Dance 1958, dancing with a princess. Some great teachers who really cared about me. The best coaches in CIF. Ditching a class for the first time and my mom sent my lunch, which was delivered to that class. Watching Al Kinser steel pole vault over 12 something and land in about 3 inches of sawdust. Thinking how he could have been the top guy in any event, running or jumping, why would he want to vault? Watching 5'6" Frank Z run perfectly over 39" hurdles knocking wood chips off the top, and in competition winning most of the races aided by perfect form and two tight jockstraps. Beating Harriman in the 220 at league, [I've got the photo] and having the judge call it the other way. Never wanting to race John Kovak in a 440, and succeeding. Watching Kinser do bear crawls like a cheeta as he passed me going the other way on a BIG 3. Two interceptions in the Eisenhower game. Tackling Matt Hudson twice on kickoffs. Bounce pass, Temple City 40-41. Moore to Canfield with almost no time on the clock, SWISH San Marino 61. Catching Dave Dickson in an American Legion baseball game when Donnie hurt his thumb and having a sore hand for the rest of the summer. The cold fear when Donnie handed me his glove and asked if I was wearing a cup. The warm unconditional friendship of Marty Gafvert, Bill Little, Kent Warner, Chuck Hubbard and Dave Moore. Tackling Donnie, well OK, having him run over me and trip on my body. Playing varsity quarterback and completing 6 straight passes. OK, two were to Bell Gardens guys, but hey? Finally being tall enough to dance with 61' girls. Setting the school record in the relay with Todd, Paul and soph Bill Patrick, thanks Coach Swift for making us believe we could do it, the record was 10 years old. A crush on a 61 girl since 1955. Having Jeff Howe help me learn to play safety after he was hurt. Beating San Marino 1960 in the relay with senior teammates, Randy Wilson, Micky Furtado and Ed Loosli... who made me run last. Not understanding chemistry, physics or Trig despite the best efforts of Mr Gruhn. Having Coach Solari say, "We're counting on you," and being really worried about that. Actually being with Weikel during some of his more tame adventures. Having Miss Spellicy tell me I was smart. Seeing Reece beat the crap out of the scumbag who stole my wallet. The hell with the 4 dollars, it had a picture of ...... in it. Did she even know I had it? Forgive the person who put hot rub [not me, but he knows who he is] on Skeeter's jockstrap. Beating SM in football, basketball & baseball, but not track :( Being able to say I was a teammate of Dickson, Johnson, Curry, Forster, Ritchko, Reece, Clement, Kinser, Brem, Moore, Kovac, Paris, and Little. Seeing Toby attired in a cape in Garfield Park in 1951. Looking under the hood of my car in 1960 having no idea what anything did. Taking an eye exam and reading the letters

S Z E R D A H E L Y I.

Then thinking, "READ IT, HELL I know HIM." Spending hs having no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but enjoying the fact that the pool of available females increased each year.

Moon River

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossin' you in style, some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way.
Two drifters off to see the world;
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end;
Waitin' 'round the bend;
My huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
In fall of 1961, after graduating from South Pasadena High School, I was about to leave for college at the University of Redlands. Some of us had actually been together since kindergarten. It seemed there had never been enough time, so many things had been left undone and unsaid, and now all the time was used up. I can recall wandering around on the football field after the graduation ceremony looking for the mortarboard I had launched into the air, a new altitude record for hand-based headgear. I was thinking about our last day at school, that it had been over too fast, and that people I wanted to say goodbye to were vanishing, heading to their own graduation celebrations with family, vanishing like a wisp of smoke in the wind. Our world was changing, and I had never in my life wanted so much for it to stay the same. Once our days had stretched out before us seemingly as numerous as the grains of sand upon the beach, if we wasted some of them carelessly, how could we know?
As I prepared to leave childhood behind, I remember thinking that nothing would ever be the same, and I would no longer be able to postpone the inevitable. Real life loomed ahead, away from our somewhat sheltered existence in “Our Town,” South Pasadena, and so I spent a Friday night, three days before I was to leave, with a girl I had known well and sometimes dated the last year of high school. She was going to be a senior, and so did not share the weight of the rite of passage that loomed before me the final days before departure. Nevertheless, she understood and was in tune with the moment, and it was great to be able to share it with someone who understood.
We went to the carnival that had always visited South Pasadena the week before the beginning of the public schools, cruised Henry’s Drive-In for a burger and then went back to her house for a last goodbye. She had a new record, and we played it over and over while we held each other and danced.
"Moon River" is a song composed by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music) that very year. It won that year's Academy Award for Best Original Song in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Although it has been performed by many artists, notably Andy Williams, nothing can match the magnificence and the beauty of the original score by Henry Mancini.
The power of Mercer’s lyrics, combined with the music of Henry Mancini, exactly captured the feelings of romance, nostalgia and optimistic anticipation that thousands of about-to-be freshman felt in the fall of 1961. We wondered what was “waitin round the bend,” and so we clung to each other and slow danced till the magic hour of 12:00, our curfew in those simpler days.
The experience was so compelling I bought the record and repeated the experience again the next night with a different girl.

Organizations, clubs, sports groups, and other groups I (did or do) participate in (in high school and/or now):

Boys League. Didn't everyone? Well not the girlsVarsity Football, Basketball & Track. I think I might have been in the Spanish Club photo.

Milestones & Epiphanies:

Retired 2006 after 41 years teaching/coaching high school.

[Date] What's happening in my life now:

Travel, writing, grandkids, working on my daughter's new home as chief landscape architect [gardner]

Pastimes & Hobbies:


Writing 2 books and some short stories of high school memories

Enjoying grandkids and camping/hiking/backpacking/boogieboarding

Sometimes nothing, and there's not enough time not to do it and it's hard to tell when you're done

Favorite Music, Songs, Bands

Kingston Trio
Celtic Women, Celtic Thunder
Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Enya, Alison Krauss
Chris Wall, Toby Keith

Favorite Books, Magazines, Movies, TV etc:

Enjoy my library, including the book I'm coloring in right now

Things about me that you probably don't know.

I was a trash collector summer 1969
I picked fruit summer 65
I worked in a gas station summer 61, 62, 63, 64

Additional Comments:

Thanks for this website it's great to have a way to reconnect with old friends, and to make new ones based on the shared experiences of life's early journey. I once wrote about Coach Solari, "If you played for Coach Solari you're a teammate even if you've never met."

James' Latest Interactions

James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Profile.
Sep 06, 2021 at 5:43 PM

An All American athlete and guy, one of the finest students to graduate from SPHS.

James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Profile.
Sep 06, 2021 at 5:41 PM

James Tomlin has a birthday today.
Feb 17, 2021 at 1:33 AM
James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Susan Anderson Duffy.
Feb 15, 2021 at 3:24 PM

Susan was a superb athlete in a time when girls were not expected to compete. I saw her play field hockey and she dominated with a fierce competitiveness that was surprising. Hope she can “lace em up” in that big field in the sky.

Off the field she was shy and sweet. RIP

James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Nathaniel Hummel.
Apr 03, 2020 at 1:33 PM

Our classmates, Nathaniel “Nat” Hummell passed away on March 16, 2020. I didn’t know Nat Hummel very well in high school but we did proudly share membership in the Class of 1961. We lived on different sides of our small town of South Pasadena and participated in different activities. In addition, Nat was in the top classes. In the last ten years we got to know each other much better thanks to Face Book and the South Pasadena High School Alumni Association.

For our 55 year reunion in 2016  I had talked Nat into taking the train from his home in Oceanside to our house to then drive up to South Pasadena from Irvine. But Nat called me the day before and said, “Send me some photos, I don’t travel well anymore.” I had told a few people he was coming and they were disappointed, Nat was well liked. We shared a love of family and he spoke several times about his late wife Rita who passed away in 2016.

“My wife passed away in April of this year. Had she lived just 3 months longer we would have been married 40 years.”

He always asked about my family and had some wry comments about some short reminiscences I posted on Face Book from time to time.

I’d like to share few notes from his SPHSAA page. Nat wrote,

“I worked as an indentured servant in my father's auto parts store until I was 25. When I snuck out the unlocked door of my cage :-), I then joined New York Life Insurance. Later I became an independent financial advisor. In 1971 I started my studies to become both (each a 5-yr course of study) a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). I then focused on helping both individuals and business owners make smarter choices with their money.”

I loved his charming memory of South Pasadena from a well-remembered past.

“My parents purchased a home (up in the hills) in the early 1940's on Oak Crest Ave. around the time my older sister, Elizabeth, was born in 1941. At that time a lot of the "land" was undeveloped and I grew up hearing the sound of saws and hammers as people were buying lots and building houses. One of my favorite memories was hiking over to "Elephant Hill" which was undeveloped until the 1960's. Every year a shepherd would bring a herd of sheep to graze on the grass (which helped keeping fires down when the grass would otherwise turn brown...). It was nice to see all the "white" of the sheep on the Monterrey Hills at that time of year. Once my older sister (Elizabeth '59) and I hiked up to visit the shepherd. He was a Basque with his herd dogs. We brought him a sandwich, which he gratefully accepted. He pointed out that when we walked up the hill that we had walked through the herd and separated it into 2 herds and next time we should walk around the herd…. but he was very polite about it. We enjoyed our visit and hiked back down the hill, then up some streets to go back home. For some reason... that memory still sticks in my brain and I can recall his face and voice and the sheep and all.

Then, in the early 60's or so the whole "Elephant Hill" was developed into the "Altos de Monterrey" if I recall the name, and large (for that time) homes were built... and no more sheep and no more shepherd.”

“Funny the type of stuff you remember, and the stuff you forget, over the years, n'est-ce pas?, like this from one year of French in my senior year while I was studying 4th year Spanish What was I thinking!!... (Posible, no estuve pensando...)

We were often told that our South Pasadena school system was special and that we were privileged to study here. I have fond memories of Lincoln Elementary School, and also of both junior high and high school.

I don't think you can separate our school memories from our memories of living in South Pasadena... I believe they are inexorably linked. I think that South Pasadena, when we lived there in the 50's and beyond, had that small town atmosphere of small stores, e.g. The Toggery for clothes, Les Balk Hardware, and many others with names I have forgotten. All, in all, I can't think of a better town in which we could have grown up. Not poor, yet not rich. Not too intellectual, yet "smart enough." Perhaps analogous to Goldilocks's "not too hot, not too cold observation."

From classmate Felix Gutierrez, “Nat helped me learn Spanish and we exchanged bilingual messages over the years.
Hasta la vista Nat, mi amigo para siempre.
iVaya Con Dios!”

James Tomlin has a birthday today.
Feb 17, 2020 at 1:34 AM
James Tomlin added a photo to profile gallery.
Jan 09, 2020 at 10:11 AM
James Tomlin added a photo to profile gallery.
Jan 09, 2020 at 10:09 AM
Family 2004 Grand Tetons
James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Patsy Ann Roark.
Oct 15, 2019 at 5:33 PM

I remember walking up the hill to Kindergarten with Patsy, Steve Rice, Frankie Schaefer, Ann Forsha and Steve Ware. A sweet girl.

James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Helen Burr.
May 16, 2019 at 1:33 PM

I remember Miss Burr as the best teacher. I only realize later that she was hard on us because she really cared. Her strategies demanded your best efforts. The taxpayers had charged her with teaching us Spanish and she wasn't going to cheat them of even a nickel.

Twice in my life I have re­ally needed to be able to speak Spanish, and when I reached back for it, there it was. I once asked her if there were just some people that couldn't learn Span­ish. She replied "Fortunately, none of them are born in Spain." They were lucky they never had, to pay her by the hour.

James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Emi Ishikawa.
Apr 26, 2019 at 1:33 PM

Emi was an outstanding student in every subject. She was born in a Japanese "Relocation" camp in 1943 during world war II. When Las Flores school closed in the eary 1950s, about half of us were sent to Marengo. Emi was one of my first friends, she showed me how to hang upside down on the monkey bars, and illustrated how to get off the injury free. I know I was insensitive to he position in post war America, and I don't recall anyone ever being mean to her, but her journey couldn't have been easy, just look at this photo.  She was a wonderful person. RIP

James Tomlin has a birthday today.
Feb 17, 2019 at 1:33 AM
James Tomlin added a photo to profile gallery.
Oct 05, 2018 at 11:57 AM
James Tomlin added a photo to profile gallery.
Oct 05, 2018 at 11:54 AM
James Tomlin added a photo to profile gallery.
Oct 05, 2018 at 11:53 AM
Fiona's wedding Sept 2018
James Tomlin has a birthday today.
Feb 17, 2018 at 1:33 AM
James Tomlin has a birthday today.
Feb 17, 2017 at 1:33 AM
James Tomlin has left an In Memory comment for Donald Tollefson.
Feb 12, 2017 at 1:33 PM

Don sat in front of me in study hall. My two favorite memories are


I asked him how we were going to beat San Marino. They had a quarterback named O'Keiff who had thrown for a lot of yards, and they were 4-0 in lague as were the eventual CIF Champion Tigers.

"He's going to have a hard time throwing the ball on his back." SP 40 SM 0

The last week of Don's senior year, he said to me. Don't ever get discouraged, discouraement is defeat." I didn't think he even knew me well, but at that time his words, and obvious concern, touched me and I carried the memory and the advice many times over the years. RIP


James Tomlin added a video to gallery.
Sep 15, 2016 at 7:54 AM
James Tomlin added a video to gallery.
Sep 15, 2016 at 7:51 AM
Posted: Jan 09, 2020 at 10:09 AM
Family 2004 Grand Tetons
Posted: Jan 16, 2019 at 11:12 AM
April 2010. Whole Family.
Posted: Jan 09, 2020 at 10:11 AM
Posted: Jan 16, 2019 at 11:11 AM
Sarah's wedding 2014
Posted: Jan 16, 2019 at 11:14 AM
Fiona's wedding Sept 2018
Posted: Mar 09, 2014 at 9:00 PM
Chuck Hubbard, Jim Tomlin, Bill Phegley, Bill Little, Kent Warner
Posted: Mar 09, 2014 at 9:00 PM
Prom 61 Brings meaning to Pat Boone's "A White Sportcoat, and a Pink Carnation. Bill Little, Jim Tomlin, Marty Gafvert, Bill Purves, Chuck Hubbard and Kent Warner with Carolyn Parker, Joan Derby, Janice Kramer, Jane Gafvert, Linda Coontz and Maryellen Sprinkle.
Posted: Mar 09, 2014 at 9:00 PM
Me, Todd Brem, Bill Patrick and Paul Johnson
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 9:31 PM
Summer 2009. Some things really don't change.
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 9:31 PM
Wedge 8/26/10
Posted: Sep 15, 2016 at 11:51 AM

James Tomlin

Posted: Jan 09, 2020 at 10:14 AM

Father of the Bride Toast

Father of the Bride Toast