Funeral services are scheduled Friday for James Rubio, a beloved Ahwatukee coach who died suddenly on Jan. 29 after suffering from complications from the flu and pneumonia. He was 46 and leaves behind a widow and five children.
A network engineer for Lifelock and formerly for Intuit, Mr. Rubio coached spring and fall football, baseball and basketball.
“James would always step up to coach their teams, even if it meant that he had to coach three divisions within one season,” said a friend on a gofundme.com page that was set up to help raise money for his family after his death.
He coached with East Valley Baseball for 10 years, and also coached teams for Horizon Honors and St. John Bosco. He volunteered with the Boy Scouts, Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and was an active member of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
“Coach gave unconditionally to his family and his community,” the gofundme page tribute stated.
“He didn’t just teach kids about a sport or a skill, he taught them life lessons, he taught them teamwork, he taught them respect, and he managed to do all of this with love. He wasn’t just teaching them baseball, he was teaching them how to become better men and women. Coach never wanted a child to not play or practice because of transportation or finances.
“When any of his players couldn’t find a ride, Coach would drive miles out of the way to get that player to practice. When a player’s family couldn’t afford a fee/cost, Coach would chip in and find the funds to help the player.
“He saw talent and skill in each child and he did not want barriers like transportation or finances to hold them back. In doing so, he made every player and family feel valued and we are forever grateful for his support and encouragement.”
An outpouring of grief and tributes to Mr. Rubio came almost immediately after word of his passing.
Contributions to the memorial fund so far have totaled nearly three times the $20,000 goal set by organizers.
“You always made an impact on young baseball players. You coached the game with love and passion like the youth who played it,” one donor stated.
Another said, “James was true gift to the community, and all those blessed to know him.”
Mr. Rubio is survived by his wife Mari, and his children – RJ ,14; Dahlia 9; Santiago, 8; Matias, 7; and Baby James, 2.
Visitation is 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Queen of Heaven Catholic Funeral Home, 1562 E. Baseline Road, Mesa, where a rosary will be offered at 7 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 3550 E. Knox Road, Ahwatukee, and interment will be at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
Donations can be made at gofundme.com/x5557f-rubio-family.