SPOKANE, Wash --- Legendary basketball coach Jud Heathcote’s memorial service was held Saturday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Spokane.
Heathcote died in August at the age of 90. He started his college basketball career at Washington State University in the late 1940’s.
When he graduated in 1950 with a degree in mathematics and education, he started coaching basketball at West Valley High School in Spokane.
He met his future wife in Spokane, and married Beverly Zier in 1958. They had three kids while living in Spokane.
After 14 years at West Valley HS, Heathcote was hired by WSU as an assistant basketball coach.
He coached there for several years before accepting the head basketball coach job at the University of Montana in 1971.
He moved to Michigan State University in 1976 for the final stage of his coaching career. He won a national championship there and three Big Ten titles in his 19 years at MSU.
He moved back to Spokane after that and spent some of his time going to University of Gonzaga basketball games. He never stopped giving back to the community in his old age either.
The memorial on Saturday was for a legendary coach and father.
Heathcote was known for his sense of humor and his fierce competitive streak. He made many connections through his life and the amount of people and support at the memorial showed that.
“I was the luckiest one of all of them because I got to spend some of the most formidable years for him, and I got to spend them with him at a critical time. He was my mentor for the next 22 years. So, other than Don Monson I feel like I got to spend as much time and heard as many stories saw as many people grow watched those guys do well in life. Look at Steve Smith and everyone else. So, this was awesome this was very well done, give his daughters credit. They choreographed a lot of it but I thought everybody was great,” said Michigan State head basketball coach, Tom Izzo.
“Beautiful send-off it was a celebration of a life. I can’t believe just how well the people did up there, especially when you’re speaking with emotions on your heart. But god it was perfect, so it was great to see everybody. It was a vintage, Jud would have approved,” said Gonzaga University’s head basketball coach, Mark Few.
Another person to speak out was Gregory Kelser, a member of Heathcote’s 1979 national championship Michigan State team. He said about 30 guys from MSU traveled to Spokane about a year ago to spend some time with Heathcote. He said the time they spent together made the memorial easier.
Izzo also expressed appreciation for Mark Few for allowing Heathcote to enjoy basketball after Michigan State, by letting him be a part of Gonzaga basketball.
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