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Editorial: R.I.P., Jim McFarland

Editorial: R.I.P., Jim McFarland

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Recent residents might know less about Jim McFarland, who died in Lincoln Nov. 27 of pancreatic cancer, than his brother Bob, the retired North Platte High School teacher and Bulldog football coach.

But longtime locals know them both. So do Husker football fans from the Bob Devaney years.

Jim McFarland made his mark outside Memorial Stadium, too.

He walked on for Devaney as a tight end from 1967 to 1969, earning All-Big Eight and All-America honors. (Bob, who followed Jim from NPHS to NU, played for Nebraska’s 1970 national champions.)

Jim played six years in the National Football League, getting his law degree along the way. He practiced 35 years in Lincoln and was a Nebraska Commission on Industrial Relations judge from 1993 to 1998.

When longtime state Sen. Chris Beutler interrupted his service in 1986 to run for governor, then-Gov. Bob Kerrey appointed Jim to finish his term.

Jim then won a full term over Virgil Parker, who had covered him at NU as a Lincoln Journal Star sportswriter.

As a Husker, Jim secured a pivotal though controversial pass-interference call in the 1969 Kansas game that started a 32-game unbeaten streak.

Jerry Tagge’s pass sailed over Jim’s head, but Jim dove into the nearest Jayhawk and prompted the flag, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Asked later if NU was lucky to win, Jim said, “I don’t know if you’d call it luck.” Then he grinned. “Well, yes, you would.”

Jim McFarland was one of North Platte’s

finest products. He will be missed.

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