Jimmy Lane has been many things in his interesting and varied life: athlete, patriot, American Legion commander, civic leader, benefactor of charities, politician, investor in real estate and hotels, Boys Club leader nnd adventurer ... especially when it came to spending money on projects close to his heart. In 1967, Lane gave Huntsville its first professional football franchise, the Alabama Hawks, who won two league championships in their three years of existence. The Hawks became the citys first pro sports team since a short-lived baseball club came to town in 1930. That team, called the Professionals, was part of the old Georgia-Alabama League along with Anniston, Talladega, Carrollton, Cedartown and Lindale, Ga. They played at old Martin Park, where the Von Braun Civic Center now stands. The Professionals folded after only one season, unable to compete for fans with the more popular mill teams. Lane brought the Hawks into the Continental Football League, which had teams as far away as Florida, California, Michigan and New Jersey. The Continental League, Lane hoped, would become something of a mini-NFL and he dreamed of Huntsville turning into a mini-Green Bay. Lane hired former pro player Mary Matuszak, later an assistant coach with the Atlanta Falcons, to be his head coach. They stocked the team with several outstanding college players who had been cut from NFL rosters. Among the Hawk players were Jeff Van Note, who later went on to a long career with the Falcons, and Skip Myers, who played split end for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Hawks won the first league championship in 1967, but the franchise and the league folded two years later. Lane was philosophical about the demise of the Hawks. I dont regret anything about it except that we had to fold, he once said in an interview. Im proud we made the effort. James A. Lane was born in Jackson, Alabama, in Clarke County, in 1918. His family moved to Evergreen after his father was killed in World War I. Lane went to grammar school and high school in Evergreen and later attended Marion Military Institute and Stanford University. In high school, he earned varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball, and was named to the all-state football team in 1936-37. In 1937, he signed a baseball contract with the Washington Senators and spent the next five years playing minor league baseball as an infielder-outfielder, at such stops as Evergreen, Cordele, Ga., Savannah, and the San Francisco Seals. He hit for an average of .356 in the Alabama-Florida League and batted .316 with 31 home runs for the Seals. Lane has been active in many patriotic, civic and charitable organizations over the years. A World War II veteran, he became the youngest man, at 26, ever elected commander of the Department of Alabamas American Legion. He later became a prime mover in the Huntsville Boys Club. He was the first captain of the Huntsville Quarterback Club. As a businessman, he was a real estate broker, salesman, developer, hotel investor and sports owner. He also served on the Athletic Committee of Birminghams Samford University in the 1960s. Lane donated 70 acres to Madison County for a nature trail park in 1967. Lane and his wife have a daughter, Jamie Ashurst of Montgomery, and two grandchildren, Trevor and McCain.