Wacker remembered at memorial service

Updated: August 29, 2003, 7:31 PM ET

SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Former North Dakota State, TCU and Minnesota football coach Jim Wacker was remembered as an inspirational leader during a service that drew an overflow crowd of more than 1,500 people.

Wacker died Tuesday at age 66 of complications from cancer.

At the service in Evans Auditorium on the Southwest Texas campus, speakers described Wacker, the son of a Lutheran minister, as someone with an exuberant personality who had the ability to motivate others.

"Coach Wacker came into my living room one night and talked for 45 minutes straight," said Roosevelt Collins, who played for Wacker at TCU. "Later my mom asked if he was a coach or a preacher. My dad said, 'Whatever he is, it was a heck of a sermon."

The Rev. Roland Martinson held a football as he started his sermon.

"Jim Wacker was fully alive," Martinson said. "He had compassion, courage and integrity and lived more life than you would ever think was imaginable."

Wacker's wife of 42 years, Lil, received a two-minute standing ovation.

Wacker compiled a 24-9-1 record while coaching at NDSU from 1976 to 1978. He brought the Division II power back into prominence after the Bison went 2-7 in 1975.

He won back-to-back national championships in the NAIA with Texas Lutheran in 1974-75 and Division II Southwest Texas, now Texas State, in 1981-82. His '82 team went 14-0, earning him the College Division Coach of the Year honors by the American Football Coaches Association. He jumped to Division I TCU the next year.

In Wacker's first year, the Horned Frogs went 1-8-2 but improved to 8-4 the next season and played in the Bluebonnet Bowl. In nine seasons at TCU, Wacker was 40-58-2. He coached at Minnesota from 1992-96, going 16-39.

His career record was 160-130-3.

Many of Wacker's former players were in attendance, including Mike Miller, the quarterback on Wacker's first national champion at Southwest Texas in 1981; Ron Jacoby, the quarterback on the undefeated 1982 team; and D.W. Rutledge, who played for Wacker at Texas Lutheran University and went on to lead Judson High School to four Class 5A state championships.

Wacker was buried at the San Marcos City Cemetery.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index