COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Joe Louis Shoulders Jr., a brother of 16-time rodeo World Champion Jim Shoulders who made his own name as a college basketball player and a widely-respected high school basketball coach, died April 8 in Collinsville, Okla. He was 88.
Shoulders was the second of four sons – Marvin, Joe, Jim and Bob – who were born to Joe Sr. and Ellen (Draper) Shoulders in Tulsa, Okla., and while Jim and Marvin concentrated on rodeo, Joe devoted his life to coaching youth sports and teaching.
The salutatorian of his 1943 East Central High School class, Shoulders went to Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) later that year, where he played basketball for the legendary Henry Iba, who called him “the tallest 5’8” player he ever had.
Shoulders joined the Naval Air Corps in 1944 and, after his discharge in 1946, returned to Oklahoma A&M, where he graduated in 1948 with degrees in math and health/physical education.
In the fall of 1948 he started teaching math and coaching in Topeka, Kan., and held that job for three years. He moved to Plainville, Kan., in 1951 and met the love of his life, Delma McConchie. They were wed in 1953. He continued coaching, teaching, rodeoing and helping his in-laws farm and ranch.
Shoulders returned to Tulsa in 1958 and taught at Monroe Junior High while McLain High School was under construction. He started working at McLain in 1959 and continued until 1972. He earned his master’s degree in mathematics during that time and coached every sport with the exception of swimming and wrestling. He wound up being head basketball coach, athletic director and math department chair in his tenure at McLain. He was All-State coach in 1968.
In the fall of 1972, Shoulders moved his family to Collinsville, Okla., and accepted the basketball coaching job. He led the Cards to the state finals in 1976 and retired from coaching in 1981. He had more than 400 coaching wins in two states and averaged more than 18 wins per season.
Shoulders was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Oklahoma Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
He had a long love of youth and sports programs. It is not possible to count the number of lives he touched with teaching, coaching, bus driving and agricultural programs.
He was active in raising livestock and was engaged in maintaining his cattle to the time of his death.
Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. (CT) April 12 at Meadowcreek United Methodist Church, 14205 East 146th N., Collinsville, Okla.
Memorials may be made to the St. John Foundation, 1923 S. Utica, Tulsa, OK 74104.
Courtesy of PRCA