Biography - James D. Houston

Born December 3, 1923
Bronxville, NY
Deceased May 9, 1970
Inducted October 25, 2015

One of the pioneers of youth hockey in Exeter, the late Jim Houston served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was a football and baseball standout at Nichols (Mass.) College - getting elected to that school's Athletic Hall of Fame - before settling in New Hampshire, where he'd spend the rest of his life.

A native of Bronxville, N.Y., Houston moved to Exeter with his family in 1955 and immediately became part of the community, taking over the Curtain Shop from his father-in-law and joining the Chamber of Commerce, and later serving as a selectman and on the Planning Board in town.

He was one of the founders of the Exeter Youth Hockey Association in 1961, which developed a successful house league program and All-Star system and still exists today, and was also a driving force behind the formation of a team at Exeter High School.

Exeter High School's first team was a club team in 1967-68. The NHIAA approved it as a varsity program the next year and its enjoyed great success at the Division I and II levels over the last five decades.

But youth hockey is where Houston, who is being inducted posthumously as a builder, left his greatest mark. He helped develop a model that stressed opportunity, participation and a level playing field for children of all skill levels to grow, advance and improve, a model that stayed in place for more than two decades.

Houston raised funds for the fledgling program, secured ice time for the teams and coached in the newly-formed EYHA.

"He had a love of life and sport, and ice hockey was at the center," said Peter Maher, an Exeter native and (Legends Hall of Famer '12).

A year after his death in 1970, then-Phillips Exeter Academy coach George Crowe (Legends Hall of Famer '04), a friend, started the Jim Houston Tournament, which was originally made up of eight top-tier Bantam teams from the region and still exists, in a different format, today.

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