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Gage remembered as hard worker

Dec. 14, 1921 - Feb. 4, 2012

Costa Mesa High's first athletic director was a successful boys' basketball coach for Mustangs and at Newport Harbor High.

February 11, 2012|By Steve Virgen

Jules Gage, a former basketball coach and athletic director at Newport Harbor High and Costa Mesa, died in his sleep Feb. 4.

He was 90.

His youngest daughter, Bonnie, finds peace in believing he died while doing one of his favorite activities. He went to sleep watching the Lakers on the night of Feb. 3, Bonnie said.

"In my heart that's what he was doing," Bonnie said Friday. "He died in his own home watching the Lakers on his big screen TV."

Jules Gage was a Lakers fan. He loved basketball and it turned out to be a game that allowed him to impact many lives in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Gage is survived by his wife of 69 years, Helen, and their four children, Pam, Julie, Alan and Bonnie, as well as nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Pam and Bonnie have found the past week extraordinary, as people have offered condolences as well as gratitude of Jules Gage's impact on their lives.

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He was known to coach with a strict style and a concentration on discipline. Yet he was also known for his colorful personality. He enjoyed pranks and jokes, especially when he delivered them.

He certainly garnered success for the Sailors and Mustangs. He guided Newport Harbor to five straight winning seasons and Sunset League championships in 1954, '56 and 57. The 1957 squad set a school record for victories in a season with 19.

Gage began teaching and coaching at Newport Harbor in 1949, after attending BYU and serving in the U.S. Navyduring World War II.

Gage's leadership proved vital for Costa Mesa, as he was the school's first athletic director and boys' basketball coach.

In Costa Mesa's second year of varsity basketball, Gage coached the 1962 Mustangs to the CIF Southern Section Division 2-A semifinals. Those Mustangs won their four Freeway League games to earn a playoff berth. Then they made a magical-type run through the playoffs with three more victories, before losing to Bell Gardens, the eventual champion.

Gage had a strong passion for basketball. But he also seemed to love a good challenge. He began as an assistant football coach under Al Irwin.

"He was a hard worker and very dedicated," Irwin said Friday, when he celebrated his 94th birthday. "He came to Newport Harbor in the fall of 1948. He never played football. But you could just tell he learned quickly because he tried so hard. He was only with me for one year."

Irwin noticed Gage had a strong dedication to basketball and admired the way he coached throughout the time he knew him, he said.

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