Captain Jim Randle


A retired U.S. Coast Guard officer originally from Gonzales, Texas, who rescued commercial fishing boats in winter storms in the North Atlantic, saved Cuban refugees in tropical waters, taught navigation to prospective officers, and helped plan President Kennedy's funeral in Washington, died of heart failure in Frederick, Maryland on June 9th. He was 96. Captain Jim Randle, USCG (ret.), was born in Gonzales and graduated from Gonzales High School in 1945. Known as "Jimmy" by family and classmates, Randle said one of his proudest accomplishments was making first string on his high school football team. He explained to non-Texans that football is the state's unofficial "religion." Randle then enlisted in the Coast Guard and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1951. Cadet Randle helped sail the academy's tall ship Eagle on training voyages across the Atlantic. His station on the square-rigged sailing ship was out on t'gallant spar high up the 150-foot tall mainmast where cadet crew members "made sail" (hauled in or spread out the 1600-ton ship's massive square sails with muscle power). After graduation, Ensign Randle served on the USCGC Courier, a ship filled with transmitters and bristling with antennas to broadcast the Voice of America from international waters near Greece. Cold War tensions sparked concern that Soviet agents might attack or sabotage the ship, so the captain assigned Randle to devise a plan to "repel boarders" with small arms. Some family members accompanied the Courier crew on the voyage from the United States to its new home port in Rhodes, Greece. Jim's wife, Mrs. Jeanne Flanigan Randle, was among them. While on this overseas assignment she gave birth to the first of the couple's three sons, James Polk Randle in 1952. Brothers Russell Vance Randle and Jonathan Bruce Randle were born after the family returned to the U.S. Back home, Randle served on ships based in Massachusetts, Florida, and North Carolina, starting with the very old 125-foot patrol ship Frederick Lee and ending with command of the 378-foot gas-turbine-powered Sherman, a fast, modern ship with a five-inch gun, torpedoes, and a flight deck for helicopters. He also had administrative assignments ashore, usually in Washington where he earned a master's degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. Captain Jim Randle retired from the Coast Guard after three decades of service in 1981. He became an administrator at the University of Maryland in College Park. As Bursar he helped streamline registration processes, and made it easier for students to use credit cards to pay school bills. After retiring from the university, Randle moved with his wife Jeanne, from Silver Spring Maryland (a suburb of Washington, DC) to Frederick Maryland (a smaller town) where he became active in civic affairs as president of a neighborhood civic association and often attended All Saints Episcopal Church. Jeanne died in 1995. Jim survived heart surgery in 1996. After his recovery, Jim married Carol Clark in 1997. Jim and Carol were active in civic and church affairs and traveled to Hawaii, Canada, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Carol's three children and seven grandchildren often joined Jim's sons and five grandchildren on vacations and holidays. Carol died in 2013. Jim's older brother, Vance King Randle, was also a native of Gonzales, and a U.S. Coast Guard captain. Vance flew seaplanes, helicopters, and C-130 transports and commanded shore stations. He died in 1997 and was buried at sea in the Pacific. Vance and Jimmy are sons of Vance King Randle, who was the Gonzales county auditor and died in 1936. Their mom was the long-time high school librarian, Katherine "Katie" Reuter Randle, who died in 1968. Late in his long life, Randle wrote a family history, where he describes the trauma of losing his father to a heart attack when Jimmy was just eight. The death during the turmoil of the depression put the family in serious financial difficulty that was managed with help from uncles, aunts, and others. He described Gonzales as a warm, supportive place where neighbors looked out for each other, phone numbers needed only three digits, and people rarely locked their doors. Randle had warm memories of 1930s and 40s Gonzales where he learned to shoot, ride a bike, went to school and church, and had Huck Finn adventures with good friends on nearby rivers. He also admired the spirit and history of the place and urged sons to take lessons from the decent and thoughtful people in his old hometown. Jim Randle will be buried in Frederick, Maryland. He is survived by sons Jim, Russell, and Jonathan, daughters-in-law Joyce and Julie, and five grandchildren. His stepchildren include Richard Clark, Carol Embry, and David Clark, their three spouses, and five children. Expressions of sympathy may be offered to the family at