Jack State, longtime W.F. West tennis coach, dies at 80


Jack State, who spent half a century coaching basketball and tennis at W.F. West, died Saturday. He was 80 years old.

"Jack State was a beloved teacher and coach at W.F. West High School. Our support and condolences go out to the State family in their time of grief. Jack leaves behind a lasting legacy, and he will always hold a special place in our hearts,” Chehalis School District Superintendent Dr. Christine Moloney said.

Raised in Spokane, State earned All-American honors as a player on the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team. After graduating, he began his teaching career at Lewis and Clark High School, then went back to school to earn his master’s degree before coming west.

State taught physical education at W.F. West from 1974 to 2000.

He took over the boys basketball team at W.F. West in 1974 and, the next year, he added a second job title to his role. The Bearcats needed a boys tennis coach; State knew how to keep score, and that was enough to earn him the position. After three seasons on the hardwood, he shifted solely to tennis.

That role stuck a lot longer. Despite retiring in 2000, State was still coaching the W.F. West boys tennis team this past fall, taking in matches from his customary spot outside the fence in a pop-up camping chair. This fall was his 50th season coaching the W.F. West boys’ tennis team and he would have marked his 48th season coaching girls tennis this spring.

In recent years, he coached multiple children of his past players, coming in as second-generation Bearcat tennis players.

In 2022, the Lewis County Tennis Association began holding the Jack State Tennis Tournament over the summer for current players, alumni and members of the community.

State is survived by his wife of five decades Colleen, as well as his daughter Kristin and his son Kyle.

Jack and Colleen State married in 1975. Colleen State has been a Chehalis School Board Director since 2011. Their son, Kyle State, works as a counselor at Chehalis Middle School.

“The State family has given a tremendous amount of time and talent to the Chehalis community and school district. The State family, including daughter Kristin, have been active in the Lewis County Tennis Association and the effort to create the Lewis County Indoor Tennis Facility in Chehalis,” the Chehalis School District said in a statement to families about State’s death on Sunday.