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James “Jim” LaCoste

September 24, 2018

Jim LaCoste passed away in his home in Newton, Kansas, surrounded by his loving wife of 27 years, Debra Ann Miller-Dealy (Miller), and his family on September 24, 2018.


Jim was born as James Thomas LaCoste in Norman, Oklahoma, on April 20, 1949 to Thomas Cyrus LaCoste and Mary Frances LaCoste (Thompson).


Jim, or Mr. Jim- as he was often called- was a life-long learner and held several degrees. He was a business owner, schoolteacher, college championship debater, coach of championship debaters, aficionado of computers, attorney, drug and alcohol counselor, recipient of a Harvard fellowship, and principal- but not necessarily in that order.


Jim achieved his life’s goal when he earned his Juris Doctor on May 9, 1987. In life’s unpredictable journey, he practiced law for the least amount of time of all his careers. Jim returned to the profession he found most fulfilling- teaching the art of rhetoric to young men and women through debate.


Jim told his history in stories and memories in the order that was meaningful to him at the time. His life’s tale came alive and was an inspiration to others. Dates and life in chronological order were not important. He cared about the journey he created, one day at a time, which became his life and legacy. While he had previously been married twice before, he and his favorite wife, Debbie, intentionally carved their space together- their life of adventure, safety, and love.


Jim was a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous since June 27, 1982. Jim lived by the Third Step- “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” When Jim was finally diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, he later wrote that he “felt lost and alone…relegated to a life of being ‘stupid, boring and glum’, and that he resented “well-meant suggestion[s] to take the Third Step.” Life came full circle when Jim found comfort in newcomers who “mirrored back to [him his] own insecure fears.” Eventually Jim found healing in continuing to take the Third Step as others had lovingly advised.


Jim and his family traversed the bumpy road of Alzheimer’s disease for 11 years. He is survived by his daughters Jacquie, Meredith, Carle, Casey, and Courtney; his siblings, Cathy, Tom, and Terri; his granddaughters Maisy, Annie, Maya, and Lucy; and many extended family members.


He is preceded in death by his parents; his children, Roland and Carrie; and his granddaughter, Brittany.


A reception will be held in loving memory on Sunday, September 30 from 2-4 pm at First Christian Church Newton, 102 East First Street.


Memorial contributions may be given to Alzheimer’s Association in care of Petersen Funeral Home, 215 North Main, Newton.





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