Sept. 15, 2011
BEAUMONT - James Barrum, a 1973 inductee to Lamar University's Cardinal Hall of Honor, passed away Tuesday night at the Conroe Regional Medical Center of complications from pneumonia.
Barrum was a three-year basketball letterman for coach Jack Martin from the 1959-1960 season through 1961-1962. He was one of the leaders on the 1960-1961 Cardinal team that posted a 21-10 record and won Lamar's first conference championship in basketball.
Barrum scored a career-high 32 points in the Cardinals' season-ending 97-71 victory over Howard Payne, and he was an All-Lone Star Conference selection in 1961 and again in 1962 when the Cardinals went 20-8 and repeated as league champions.
"James was an excellent ball-handler and a very good guard," said Martin of Barrum in a 2010 interview. "If a team pressured us very much, we would open up the court and get the ball to James. He had a knack for taking the ball to the basket and scoring."
Billy Tubbs, who was Martin's assistant coach during those seasons recalled Barrum thusly: "College basketball has changed a lot over the years, but James Barrum is one of a lot of players who played back in that era who could have been played the game today.
"James was one of the best guards I've ever been around. We played a two-guard offense back in those days, but James had point guard skills. He could distribute the ball; he was an accurate shooter, and he was such a tough, tough competitor."
A graduate of Beaumont French High School, Barrum earned his bachelor's degree from Lamar in 1962, and he completed work on his master's degree from Stephen F. Austin in 1964. He later earned a doctorate degree in counseling and guidance from Auburn University in 1969.
Barrum began his career as a professor in the criminal justice department at Sam Houston State in 1969, and he retired in 2007 after 38 years of service to the university.
A memorial service for Barrum will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in Huntsville's St. Thomas Catholic Church.