J. Thomas McNamara
Stephen Decatur Runnin’ Reds basketball legend, Jim Hallihan, passed away early Friday morning (Nov. 20) from bone cancer.
Halliahn gave so much of himself to make our prep athletes lives better, first in Iowa, where he lived, and then to Decatur. Last October he hosted the “Character Counts” program in teammate TJ Jackson’s church basement. He and the others were in town to celebrate for the first time their 1962 state championship.
I received this message from Jack Sunderlik, a teammate of his on the 1862 Stephen Decatur state basketball champions, “I received some sad news today from Lee Endsley. Jim Hallihan passed away early this morning (Friday) from bone cancer.
“He was very respected and loved. The ‘Runnin’ Reds’ nation is mourning again for another lost brother.
“Jim was one of the best floor generals ever to represent the ‘Runnin’ Reds,'” wrote Sunderlik. “He playedcalm and never seemed to get rattled. (He) always played under control.”
Retired urologist and member of that 1962 state championship team, Dr. Lee Endsley, said he can rest in peace now and without the pain that he’s been experiencing from the bone cancer.
Hallihan brought his highly-successful and highly-acclaimed “Character Counts” program to Decatur 13 months ago for the high school coaches of Decatur and Macon County to consider using in building relationships with their young student-athletes. It was more about building relationships and doing what’s right that counts than the number of wins and losses.
According to Endsley, who is the one who called me, with Hallihan’s running mate at guard, Jerry Hill, calling others, said, “He found out last week that his cancer which was diagnosed right after our reunion (October 2019), had spread to his bones. He started radiation treatments one week ago and was scheduled to start chemotherapy and immunotherapy.”
Ironically, when Hallihan was here in Decatur for the class reunion and the “Character Counts” program, he found a nodule on his neck that he had checked when he got back home in Iowa which was diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma. He had that taken care of with surgery and radiation. In the meantime he also had a hip replaced which was good at the time, but later he started having pain in that hip and back pain and that’s what led to the diagnosis of bone cancer.
Although he lived in Iowa, his heart was right here in Decatur, especially his former high school, Stephen Decatur, which is why he wanted to help the athletics program here with “Character Counts” at the same time he and his teammates from 1962 were together to celebrate their reunion.