KEYSER - On April 3, 2004, at The Pines Restaurant in Keyser, the Keyser High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee sponsored what they referred to as “The First, Last, and Only Annual Jim Broome Roast.”

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - On April 3, 2004, at The Pines Restaurant in Keyser, the Keyser High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee sponsored what they referred to as “The First, Last, and Only Annual Jim Broome Roast.”  
The night included a social hour, dinner, and most importantly a roast that included a list of some 20 roasters.
Twenty roasters? When you watch the famous celebrity roasts of today and those of old you typically see maybe half that number. But that’s the thing, Keyser’s beloved Jim Broome has touched twice, if not exponentially more lives than even the most successful of people.  
By all accounts, that 2004 Jim Broome Roast was wildly successful and gave the Keyser community a tremendous opportunity to express towards Coach Broome and his beloved wife Patty their love and appreciation. But the Broomes’ journey did not end in 2004 and some 16 years later, despite embarking on a new and permanent life’s journey that’s taken them to sunny Florida, both are still going strong.
That journey to Florida began last Monday as the Broomes embarked from their home in Keyser to their new residence in the Sunshine State. Unbeknownst to Jim and Patty, however, plans were made for friends, neighbors, and the Keyser community to once again show up and show their appreciation for the Broomes; this time in the form of a roadside send off.
“That was something. Something we never thought would happen. We thought we would just sneak out of town. What happened is, we pulled out of our driveway, and there’s a couple houses you know real close to us, and the neighbors came out and were there to talk to us, and we thought well that would be the end of it. But then, when we went around the bend, there were people on both sides of the road, way, way, way down the road,” Jim Broome recalled.
According to Broome, “It was our neighbors and a lot of people from town. So we stopped to talk to each of them on the way out, at a safe distance of course.  As we left Great Oak Valley, they were all lined up behind us like a parade, almost like in the movie ‘Hoosiers.’ They followed us all the way out through town and it was really nice.”
The outpouring of love and support they were shown on their departure was really a tremendous and pleasant surprise to the Broomes.
“I want to give some thanks out to some people, like Coach Haines, Johnny, he was one of the organizers. Also, my son Jeff, who brought a motor home up to ride us all the way to Florida. Then there’s Sam Kalbaugh, one of my best friends, who used to be the superintendent of schools, and Connie Kesecker. The whole thing was so nice, we were both really touched.”
As the crowd of supporters lined both sides of the road leading out of Great Oak Valley, there were Black and Gold clad folks waving handmade signs, wearing KHS and Thunderhill shirts, and in fact Thunderhill music, mostly the song “I’m Going Home,” could be heard playing from several car stereos.  
It was a fitting send off for a couple so loved and cherished, the successful coach, educator and performer and his supportive bride of nearly 55 years.
A 1954 graduate of Keyser High School where he played basketball, ran track, and served as manager for the football team, Jim Broome then enlisted in the Air Force where he served successfully for three years and eight months. While in the Air Force, Jim was the starting guard for three years on the Randolph (Texas) Air Force Base basketball team.
After the Air Force, Broome returned to Keyser and attended Potomac State College where he became student body president and was a member of the basketball team. In 1960, the Catamounts completed what was to that point the most successful season in school history, finishing with a 26-3 record, including a 24-game win streak, and just one game shy of competing for the national championship.
From Potomac State, it was on to West Virginia University where Broome would graduate in 1962 with a degree in physical education and biological science. This was the jumping board to what would came a remarkable career as an educator and coach.
“I coached at Keyser for 39 years, and that’s the record. I remember talking to ‘Tack’ Clark, who was the head coach there forever. I asked him one time how many years he coached there and he said 36. I asked him if he thought anybody would beat that record and he said no, because nobody would be that darn dumb. It turned out I was three years dumber, as I held on for three more years,” Broome said with a chuckle.
In 39 years of coaching cross country, basketball and junior high track, Broome’s teams had a combined record of 1,847-619, a combined 75 percent winning percentage. It’s impressive to serve with longevity totaling 39 years, it’s doubly impressive to have won an average of three out of every four contests over four decades.
“To be truthful, I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for the people of the Keyser area. They supported every team I ever coached, and as a coach or teacher, nobody ever gave me any static over anything,” Broome explained.
The bulk of those 1,847 wins, 1,382 in fact, came as Broome was the head cross country coach.  In 33 years of coaching cross country, Broome’s teams won 15 area championships, 19 PVC championships, 12 regional championships, and 23 of those teams qualified for the state tournament. Four individual runners won the state championship, three finished as runners-up, five third place finishers and seven in fourth place at the state meet.
According to Jim, “We had cross country teams that were great, and it wasn’t due to my coaching, but rather the athletes we had. Those kids would do anything you asked them to. I can recall at one time when we won five straight PVC and area championships in a row, which was unheard of. When we finally lost, the kids were really down and I told them not to worry that what they had accomplished would never be done again. Within two or three years, we started a run where we won both of them again five straight times,” Broome again said with a chuckle.
Broome also was an assistant football coach under “Tack” Clark for three years, helping Keyser win the 1969 state championship as part of the “James Gang” of assistant coaches, a group that also included James “Jim” Thompson and James “Jim” Turbin.  
Broome enjoyed tremendous success as a head basketball coach in Keyser as well at the junior high, freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels. Jim’s eighth grade basketball teams had two undefeated seasons and had a combined record of 69-8.  His ninth grade teams had two undefeated seasons as well, went a combined 158-26, including a 32-game win streak.
Broome also coached junior high track for eight years and was the sponsor of the junior high “K Club” for seven years.
For his efforts, Broome has been inducted into the KHS Athletic Hall of Fame seven times, in 2001 was inducted into the Potomac State Athletic Hall of Fame, was WV state cross country coach of the year in 1986-1987, also named PVC coach of the year 14 times, and in 2003, it was announced that the annual Keyser High School coach of the year award would be named in his honor.
More than a successful educator and coach, Broome also made his mark in the community and region in his role as lead singer and guitarist for the Thunderhill Singers, which would later become simply Thunderhill.  Beginning in 1963, Thunderhill performed up and down the East Coast, appeared on nationwide television on CBS, did successful college work, released several successful records, and were of course a huge local favorite.
Even after “retiring,” the group would come out of retirement to perform concerts as part of fundraising efforts. For example, in a series of four concerts, the group ultimately raised approximately $40,000 of the $ 348,000 needed to build the larger gymnasium at Keyser High School.
“The actual time we played and traveled as a group, doing it 100 percent in the summertime, was 26 years. But, we actually kept playing benefit concerts for 50 years. It just seemed like if we threw a concert, and it was for a good cause, not because of us but because people knew it was going to something like that, everybody in the area showed up,” Jim explained.
Asked whether he thought he is remembered more for being a coach or a performer, Broome replied, “Well, the Thunderhill part was fun because you didn’t have to worry about winning and losing. Losses just tore me up. So I would say they were both equal, both nice careers.  But Thunderhill was a way to make a lot of money for some really good causes. Being a coach and being in Thunderhill were both very gratifying. They were both fun.”
So what now for Jim and Patty Broome? “Right now, we’re sitting at our son’s house. He is a professor at Florida State University, and he owns a place on a small lake down here.  Right now, we’re sitting at a table, overlooking that lake. We are in a house that’s about a five or six minute walk from where he lives. So we’ll spend a lot of time with the grandkids,” Jim explained.
“We appreciate you doing this. We had originally planned to have a goodbye picnic but the virus put a stop to those plans.  We feel like we left Keyser without getting a chance to say goodbye to anybody, and then everybody said goodbye to us.  We loved being a part of Keyser and Mineral County.”
In the next chapter of their life, Jim and Patty Broome have physically left Keyser for the Sunshine State. As the throng of people who showed up to send them off shows, however, Jim and Patty Broome, their legacy at least, will never leave.