Ten days before his 75th birthday, James Richard “JR” Pooler passed away on Feb. 14, 2019. Recently living in Clarkdale, Arizona, he is survived by his wife, Larona “Ronni,” who would be celebrating 50 years of marriage this year in August.
Other survivors are his two children and their families; Rusty, wife Joyce and children Lillie, Nate and Ryan of Winsor, Colorado; his daughter Gretchen Wesbrock, husband John and children, Gracie and Aubrie of Cottonwood, Arizona; sisters Mary Searcy of Boulder City, Nevada; Barbara Jean Creech of Mesa, Arizona; Sandra Todd of Escondido, California; Randy Jo Pooler of San Diego, California.
JR was born in Springfield, Missouri, and moved to Yuma, Arizona, as a young boy. He has always been a hard-working person often talking about his paper route and working in the agricultural fields in the Yuma area.
He was a multi-sport athlete in high school participating in every sport offered but never joined the swim team which proved to be comical since that became the sport he was most passionate about later in life.
He was proud to be in the first graduating class of Kofa High School and was recently inducted into their inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame as a part of the first and only football team to win a state championship 1961-1962.
JR attended Arizona State University majoring in engineering. He went on to work as a civilian at the military proving grounds in Yuma. From their he began working for the City of Long Beach in the Harbor Department.
After meeting the love of his life he made the move back to Arizona and began working with the Arizona Department of Transportation and soon moved to work for the City of Scottsdale.
He transitioned to the City of Tempe Engineering Department as a draftsman in 1971. JR had numerous projects that gave him great pride during his time with the City of Tempe including, the ASU Research Park, the Arizona Mills Mall, and his final project Tempe Town Lake.
JR retired from the City of Tempe as the Engineering Special Projects Manager and began his own engineering consulting firm Pooled Resources, Inc.
He continued working with cities across the state doing improvement districts including an on-going project for the town of Camp Verde. JR was known for his no-nonsense, get-it-done approach.
JR was a member of the Arizona Public Work Association. He was a board member for the Arizona Federal Credit Union for 30+ years serving in many capacities including chairman of the board, treasurer and the list goes on.
JR loved the Lord and was involved in teaching, serving, and worshiping at Trinity Baptist in Mesa, Central Christian Church in Mesa, Redemption Church in Gilbert and finally at Verde Community Church in Cottonwood.
JR’s true passion was the competitive swimming world. This was always funny because he has never worn a Speedo (thank goodness) and we never saw him swim a lap without his inner tube.
Both JR’s children were involved in USA Swimming from a young age. He decided that instead of sitting and watching his kids swim he wanted to be involved. This started his journey into the world of officiating for United States Swimming. JR had the opportunity to officiate nationally, including several Olympic trials and internationally with national teams travelling abroad.
He became known for his immense knowledge of the sport, equipment maintenance, pool design and was instrumental in transforming officiating in the state of Arizona.
JR was a teacher, mentor and friend to swimmers, coaches and officials. After retiring from officiating a great point of pride for him was serving as the Team Manager for the Mingus Union High School Swim Team and supporting the Cottonwood Clippers during the last five years.
He was always the first one to every practice and the last one closing up. His family, along with close friends, are working on establishing a scholarship and legacy award to continue supporting the sport that he loved. His heart for the sport and his love for the athletes will have a lasting impact. His legacy will be carried on by those whose lives he touched.
We will miss our hard-working and big hearted Poppa but rejoice in knowing that he is singing “Oh Happy Day” with the heavenly choir. Not a “goodbye” but a “see you later” until we are in our forever HOME.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, April 20, 2019, at 2 pm at Verde Community Church.
Information provided by survivors.