James Austin (Jim) Dillard, age 83, of Cleveland, Oklahoma, passed from this life at his residence on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
Jim was born December 21, 1938, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to Austin and Eunice Marie (Goad) Dillard. He was raised and received his education in Fairfax, where he was known as the "Fairfax Freighter" while playing football and running track. During this time, he was named Outstanding Back in the conference, was named All-American, All-State, and MVP. Jim attended Oklahoma State on a full-ride football scholarship from 1958 to 1962. He also participated in the Senior Bowl, the Blue-Gray Game, and the coaches' All-American Game and was named to the OSU All-Decade team. Jim was drafted by Baltimore and Oakland but chose to play in the Canadian Football League for seven years. He was named to the CFL East All-Stars as well as the CFL West All-Stars. Jim returned to the NFL, playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 1969. In 1975 he was awarded the Jim Thorpe Award for the all-time greats in Oklahoma football for the decade of the 1950s. Jim was united in marriage to Brenda Carol Jones on December 24, 1960, at Fairfax, OK. To this union, three children were born.
After Jim's football career ended due to a knee injury, Cleveland hired him as a football/track coach, and he also started the girl's track team. In 1971, Jim and his family moved to Tulsa, where he coached football, track, and swimming, taught history and Drivers Education; and was an assistant coach for the Tulsa Knights in 1974 & 75. In December of 1975, they returned to Cleveland, where Jim became the State Farm Agent until retirement in May of 2017. Jim was an active member of the Cleveland First Christian Church, serving on the bus ministry, on the Cleveland City Council, member of the Chamber of Commerce, and for many years active in the booster club. He started Bobcat Football, so his son JR could play little league football. He also assisted with the development and building of the Keystone Golf Course.
Jim had been baptized by his uncle Troy in San Jose, CA, developing his love of God at a young age. During his life, Jim enjoyed traveling through the US and Canada, as well as visiting Switzerland and Germany. He was an avid fisherman and hunter but most of all loved family reunions. Jim especially loved watching his grandsons involved in football, basketball, baseball, and golf sporting events.
Jim was preceded in death by his son James Robert (JR) Dillard, his parents, Austin and Eunice Dillard, and a sister Louise Looney. Surviving are his two daughters - Jan Cook and husband David of Cleveland, Jill Dillard of Tulsa; daughter-in-law Sheila Dillard of Broken Arrow; grandchildren - Clinton & Stephanie Dillard of Tomball, TX; Benjamin & Amber Dillard of Aubrey, TX, and their children Breckin, Brandt, Bayleigh, and Brynley; Jefferson Cook of Cleveland; JD and Brooke Sparks of Rocky Mount, NC and their children Finn, Isla and Mira; Josh Sparks, Jeremy Hathcoat and Jordan Hathcoat all of Fairfax, OK; niece Tami Miller and her husband Jim of Shidler, Oklahoma, a godson David Collins of Tulsa, OK and his girlfriend of 28 years Jean Hammond. The family would also like to acknowledge two special friends who helped look after him for the past few years - Barry Lester and Grant Krotzer.
Funeral services for Jim will be held at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in the sanctuary of the Cleveland First Christian Church, 100 South Division, with Pastor David Logsdon officiating.
Visitation will be on Monday, July 25, from noon to 7 PM with the family present from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Chapman Black Funeral Home, Cleveland, OK. Burial will be at 2:00 PM in the Fairfax Cemetery, Fairfax, Oklahoma. Services have been entrusted to the Chapman-Black Funeral Home, 108 West Delaware, Cleveland, OK.
Family has requested that in lieu of flowers that donations be made in honor of Jim to the First Christian Church Building Fund in Cleveland, Oklahoma.
© 2022 (Chapman-Black Funeral Home)
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