Libby High School unveiled a new plaque high in the Ralph Tate Memorial Gym Saturday night to commemorate a man who loved to sit where the plaque now hangs.
Jim England spent almost 40 years calling Logger basketball from the KLCB booth that hangs above the bleachers, and fellow broadcaster — and fellow retired educator — Jim Mee spearheaded the creation of a plaque to commemorate his time there.
“Jim loved basketball,” Mee said. “He watched more basketball games than anybody I know. I mean, he’d watch them here, if there wasn’t a game here, sometimes he’d go to Troy to watch.”
England started calling games in the fall of 1981, alongside Don Walker, who has since returned to the booth.
Walker said he stepped away from basketball in the 1990s, but came back to help out after England passed away last winter.
“The previous guys who had worked in the booth just decided to move on to different jobs,” Walker said. “So, we just got thrown in there, and that was it.”
And Jim England stayed, calling his last game last January. Mee recalled that it was a game versus Browning.
“We did the Browning Indians, Jim had heart surgery, and never recovered, really,” Mee said.
Walker and Mee agreed, if a person wanted an answer about any question related to basketball, England was the man to go to.
“If you ever had a question about basketball, the first person you asked was Jim. If he didn’t know, he’d know where you could get the answer,” Walker said.
Sometimes he knew the rules better than the referees, he said. Some of that was simply due to his paying attention and keeping up with rule changes.
Mee pointed out that the booth is also the best seat in the house, and gives a perspective on what’s happening that no one else has.
“You could officiate a ball game up here more efficiently than on the floor,” Mee said.
He demonstrated the way England would pound the shelf desk in the booth when making declarations about a call he disagreed with.
“I swear that there are dents in here,” Mee said.
Unlike a rowdy fan, it wasn’t about who the call was made on.
To England, a good call was a good call and a bad call was a bad call, Mee and Walker agreed.
“Naturally we pull for the Loggers, but we try and be even, because, heck, these are kids out there having a good time, and that’s what it’s all about,” Walker said.
For the fans who couldn’t be at the games, England was their eyes.
Mee recalled the radios deposited around the mill when it was open, which would always play the games when they were on.
“In a town this size, if you’re not related to somebody who’s playing, they’re your next door neighbor. It’s a community thing,” Mee said.
And community mattered to England, Mee said.
“Jim had maybe four things in his life that really counted: his faith, his family, the community and basketball,” he said.
He served his community as a teacher, starting at Asa Wood when it was a junior high school around 1967, Mee said. Later he moved with the junior high and kept teaching 8th grade.
He eventually became a counselor, and after he retired, he ran for the school board.
“I’d rather have a root canal than be on the school board,” Mee said.
But England was there for his community however he could be.
“If something needed to be done and he could do it, ‘Yeah, I’ll help out with that; Yeah, I can do that; I’ve got time to do that,’” Walker said.
“There was no nicer guy in the world then Jim England,” Mee said. “He was just a super guy. Just one of those people that -- just a good guy.”