Hall of Fame Member and Sportsmanship Award Namesake James J. Poet Passes Away

The Montclair State University Athletic Department and the campus community mourn the passing of James J. Poet, on February 12, 2011, a loyal friend of the University and a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame and a Charter Member of the Carpe Diem Society.

A dedicated supporter of Montclair State for over 60 years, Poet graduated from Montclair State with his bachelor’s degree in 1941. During his time at Montclair State he participated in three sports – baseball, football and track and field and was inducted into the Montclair State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1976.

After graduating from Montclair State, Poet became a disability claims examiner with Prudential Insurance Company in New Jersey before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1942-45 during World War II. A commissioned ensign, he served in North Africa, Sardinia, Corsica and Southern France and later continued on in the naval reserves as a Battalion Commander and then Full Commander.

In 1946, Poet started a Culligan Water Conditioning business in San Bernardino, California and 11 years later moved to San Diego when he purchased a Culligan Water Conditioning franchise that he ran until selling the company in 1983 following his retirement.  Poet would remain as a consultant with the company for the next five years.  

Despite his residence on the West Coast, Poet always remained in constant contact with those at his alma mater. In 2001, the MSU Athletic Department renamed its Sportsman of the Year award in honor of Poet. Each year the “James J. Poet Sportsmanship Award” is presented to the student-athlete who exhibits not only exemplary sportsmanship throughout participation in his or her respective sport, but also exceptional citizenship in the campus community – all of the ideals that Poet himself believed in. 

Each year the award is presented by Poet’s long-time friend, classmate, and fellow Hall of Fame member Jim McGlvray and following the event, Poet would make contact with the year’s recipient.

"Jim was truly a special man and a special friend,” said Director of Athletic Holly Gera.  “He supported Montclair State athletics throughout his life and never forgot his college days on the east coast.  I always enjoyed hearing about his days as a student athlete.  His stories were warm and funny, and it was evident that his athletic participation remained a big part of his life.  We will miss him very much."

Poet was married to his wife Dorothy, who passed away in 2007, for 62 years and the couple had three children: Suzanne, James, and Stephanie, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.