James M. LeClair, 69, of Mayville, ND, died Monday, November 4, 2019 at the Luther Memorial Home in Mayville.
Jim was born October 30, 1950 to Tom and June LeClair in South St. Paul, Minnesota where he spent his childhood years and graduated from South St. Paul High School in 1968. He then attended the University of Minnesota Crookston for two years, before transferring to the University of North Dakota. Jim married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth (Betty) McGinn July 31, 1970 before entering UND. He graduated from UND after serving in the Army Reserves. Jim was an outstanding athlete who excelled in football and wrestling throughout high school and college years. His athletic talents led him to be drafted in the third round by the NFL where he played 12 years for the Cincinnati Bengals as middle linebacker. While playing for the Bengals, he served many years as defensive captain, was nominated to the Pro Bowl, and played in Super Bowl XVI. He also played two years in the USFL for Donald Trump’s New Jersey Generals. He has also earned many Hall of Fame accolades. Jim loved a challenge and had every intention of winning at whatever challenge was before him. This competitive nature even led him to a winning wrestling match with a 500 lbs. black bear at the Cincinnati Convention Center.
Playing professional football led to many interesting experiences, but the greatest blessing Jim experienced while in the NFL, was accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Jim soon realized God allowed him to be in the NFL platform for the purpose of sharing his faith with others. Jim spent many hours sharing his testimony with countless organizations and varied age groups both while residing in Cincinnati and while living in Minnesota and North Dakota. When Jim was no longer able to speak due to the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s, he was often seen sitting quietly with his head bowed and hands raised in prayer to his Lord. He knew God had a purpose in this situation also. So, because of his competitive nature and love for the Lord, if Jim was here today to talk to you, he would most likely say, “Beat ya! I beat you to heaven.” But he would want you to join him one day in heaven by trusting in Jesus as your Lord and Savior too. One of Jim’s favorite verses that assured him of his salvation was Ephesians 2: 8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works that no one should boast”. He would want you to have this gift too.
An even greater source of joy and pride than competing in sports was Jim’s children and grandchildren. He loved his children deeply. He spent countless hours wrestling with his children, playing with them, spending time with them in any way he could, and watching them grow and compete in various sports. He was incredibly proud of his children and the wonderful people they have become. He would often say that he was so blessed and couldn’t ask for anything more. Jim also delighted in each of his grandchildren and marveled at the varied talents and personalities that developed from one gene pool. Jim’s favorite place to be was at our cabin swimming, water skiing, fishing, boating, working on remodeling projects, and relaxing with them. His loyalty and deep love of his family, his competitive nature, and a love for the Lord are a legacy that is living on in his family and the many lives he touched.
Jim is preceded in death by his parents, Tom and June LeClair, his brother Bill LeClair, his in-laws Glenn and Gert McGinn, brother-in-law Gary Johnson, and many aunts and uncles.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Betty; his loving daughter Kelli (Mark) Odden, children Ashley and Matthew; loving son Jamie (Sarah) children Emma, Kaitlyn, and Luke; loving son Andrew (Lindsay) children Hank, Grace, Julia, and Ruby; brother Marty (Cindy) LeClair, children Carri and Katie; sister Janet (Mike) Nelson, children Josh and Jacob; sister-in-law Jan LeClair, children Nicholas and Brian; brother-in-law Pat (Bev) McGinn, children Chris, Barb, Mike, and Matt; sister-in-law Mary Lou Johnson, children Bill, Jessica, and Laura; sister-in-law Kitty (Mike) Denardo, children Allen and Jennifer.
Jim was grateful for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, his family both near and extended, his friends, his church, and the tender care he received at Luther Memorial Home in Mayville, ND. Jim went to his heavenly home November 4, 2019.
Blessed be the impact of Jim LeClair.
Memorials may be given to Campus Crusade For Christ International, Teen Challenge, Compassion International, Ifosud a Haitian farming ministry, Alzheimer’s research, or any charity of your choice.
Visitation: Will be 5–6 PM with a 6 PM Public Prayer Service on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at the Riverside Evangelical Free Church in Mayville, ND and will resume one hour prior to the service at the church.
Funeral Service: 2:00 PM Friday, November 8, 2019 at the Riverside Evangelical Free Church in Mayville, ND.
Burial: Will be in the Mayville Cemetery in Mayville, ND.