Oct. 4, 1955 – Oct. 7, 2017
As a maintenance mechanic, James P. Souter made sure the equipment at the General Mills plant operated smoothly to produce freshly baked cereal around the clock. He worked mostly behind the scenes in his primary job, which he held for more than 25 years.
But he also had a highly visible presence in the community through his avocation as a youth basketball coach. Mr. Souter coached at the elementary, middle school and high school levels and for American Athletic Union (AAU) teams.
He died Saturday after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was 62.
A Buffalo native, Mr. Souter grew up in Riverside and attended Riverside High School. He was a longtime resident of the Town of Tonawanda, where he coached co-ed soccer and girls basketball for the Blessed Sacrament Athletic Club in the 1990s and early 2000s.
He went on to coach the freshman girls basketball team at Holy Angels Academy and AAU girls teams that traveled throughout the state.
Mr. Souter didn't play organized basketball as a youngster, but "somewhere down the line he found a passion to coach, and he was so good at it," said his youngest daughter, Amanda.
She recalled that his coaching style showed an "old-school mentality." He demanded that his players pay attention and he insisted on orderly practices.
Amanda Souter played on several teams coached by her father, continued playing at D'Youville College, and then became a coach herself.
"I was very inspired by all the success he had," she said. When she was named coach of the modified team at Tonawanda High School, she immediately asked her dad to be an assistant coach – a post he held for about eight years and continued even after his cancer diagnosis. He also helped his daughter coach this past summer in a league for high school girls.
Known as "Bo-Bo" to many of his friends, Mr. Souter enjoyed boating and fishing on Lake Erie. He retired from General Mills in July.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Souter is survived by his wife of 35 years, the former Denise Diebold; another daughter, Marisa; two sons, James Jr. and Michael; his mother Delores; a sister, Dee Utzig, and two brothers, Norvyn III and Raymond.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Blessed Sacrament Church, 263 Claremont Avenue, Town of Tonawanda.