James A. Cole, 67, of New Haven, beloved husband of Jean Welty, passed away on January 11, 2022 at Yale New Haven Hospital. Jim was born in Lebanon, NH to the late Robert and Marcelline Cole. He spent his childhood in the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont, hunting, fishing, skiing, and playing sports. Jim had a successful tennis career while attending Lyndon State College, and worked summers as an assistant pro in the Berkshires . Following college, Jim moved to Florida to pursue his tennis career. After a time on the pro circuit, he realized that teaching was his passion, and he devoted the rest of his life to teaching tennis. Jim headed numerous public and private tennis programs in Florida and Virginia. As Director of Tennis at the Rick Macci Tennis Academy, he was responsible for junior player development. Among the young players with whom he worked were Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Serena Williams. As the official tennis pro of the LA Dodgers during spring training in Vero Beach, Jim played golf, tennis and socialized with Sandy Koufax and other baseball greats of the era. Jim moved to Connecticut in 1995 to work at the New Haven Lawn Club, where he was Head Tennis Professional for fourteen years. Jim has continued to teach, most recently with Fairfield County Tennis. He particularly enjoyed coaching the Branford High School Girls Tennis Team, and sharing their growth and successes under his leadership.
Jim received many professional awards and recognitions, including certification as a Master Professional, achieved by fewer than one percent of the USPTA’s membership. He was USPTA Coach of the Year in Florida, a finalist for USPTA National Coach of the Year, and voted by the South Connecticut Conference as Girls Tennis 2016 Division I Coach of the Year. He has been published numerous times, including multiple feature articles and tips in TENNIS magazine, and a weekly column for the Vero Beach Press Journal.
Jim never lost his childhood love of the outdoors, and treasured his hunting trips with his brother in Vermont. Jim and Jean enjoyed spending time at their house in Colorado with their dog, fly fishing, hiking and watching wildlife. They had many great travel adventures, including RV trips throughout the western US, and travel throughout Europe, Africa and the Americas. Jim’s other hobbies included golf, reading, knitting, gardening, opera and playing the guitar. He was a wonderful short-order cook, and mastered cooking over open fire, including the fireplace. Jim was a kind, gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor and just generally a great guy. His passing is an immeasurable loss to his family, friends, colleagues and loyal students.
In addition to his wife, Jim is survived by his stepson, Matthew Walsh (Lina) of Long Island City, NY, brother Thomas Cole (Shawna Petticord) of New Baltimore, MI; sister Marie Witherill (Kathy Wolfe) of Charlotte, NC; sister Cheryle Bennett (James) of Linburg, Georgia, and adored grandchildren Bennett and Emmy Walsh. His brother Timothy predeceased him.
A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on January 22, 2022 at United Church on the Green in New Haven, where Jim was a long-time member. The service is open to the public (subject to masking and COVID precautions) and will be simulcast through the church’s website, www.unitednewhaven.org. Memorial donations may be made to FISH of Greater New Haven, www.fishofgreaternewhaven.org, or to the music program of United Church on the Green.