Two Eastern Michigan legends passed away on consecutive days, Bob Parks and Paul McMullen. McMullen's death in a ski accident is yet to be confirmed.
Tony Paul wrote the following story on Parks which appeared in the March 4, Detroit News. The story on McMullen is from Wikipedia.
Bob Parks, the most successful coach in Eastern Michigan coach, in any sports, who guided the men's track-and-field and cross-country programs to six national championships and 31 Mid-American Conference titles and was named MAC coach of the year 22 times, has died.
Parks died Wednesday. He was 90.
He ran at Eastern Michigan from 1951-55, and returned to coach the teams in 1967. He retired in 2001.
"We are saddened by the loss of our father," said Sue Parks, of Parks' four children. "He touched countless lives and was a father figure and an inspiration to so many. He was as competitive as anyone but more importantly, he always wanted to ensure that his athletes were ready for the challenges of life when they left his program. He will long be remembered for his positive impact and the way that he treated people"We will all carry his passion, strength and fighting spirit with us."
Parks won six NAIA and NCAA team championships, and coached 286 individual conference champions and 31 NAIA and NCAA national champions. He coached more than 110 All-Americans, and was national coach of the year once and regional coach of the year nine times.
He also coached at least one athlete who compete in every Olympics from 1968 through 2012, including 1976 gold-medalist Hasely Crawford (100 meters), 2000 silver-medalists Clement Chukwu and Nduka Awazie (4x400) and 1984 bronze-medalist Earl Jones (800m).
Parks is a member of the Eastern Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame — the school's indoor and outdoor tracks are named after him — as well as the Drake Relays Hall of Fame. He was enshrined in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000, and the MAC Hall of Fame in 2015. Parks was on the ballot for the 2021 Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class.
Eastern Michigan won the 1970 NAIA and NCAA Division II national championships, then moved to the MAC and Division I in 1972. In Division 1, Parks led Eastern Michigan to the NCAAs seven times, with a sixth-place finish in 1974.
In track, his dual-meet record was 162-14-1; in cross country, it was 132-24-1.
"The entire Eastern Michigan athletics family is heartbroken by the news of Bob's passing," athletic director Scott Wetherbee said. "It is impossible to summarize the legacy of Coach Parks and the impact that he has made on our institution in just one statement. Bob Parks is one of the finest examples of a champion that this university has ever seen, not only in his field of competition, where he built our cross-country and track-and-field programs into two of the very best in all of intercollegiate athletics, but outside of his sports, as well. Thousands of student-athletes, coaches, staff members, and individuals in the Ypsilanti community were positively impacted by his dedication to Eastern Michigan.
"Many individuals leave a mark on the places they go — few fundamentally change them for the better. Bob Parks is one of those few, and Eastern Michigan University will never fail to recognize him for his achievements and contributions to our department."
Parks was born in Pittsburgh, but was raised in Howell. He played football, basketball, baseball and ran track at Howell High School, winning a state championship in the 440. At Eastern Michigan, which then was Michigan Normal College, he was a conference champion in the 880 and mile relay team.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the "Bob Parks Track Dedication Fund."
Paul McMullen (Wikipedia)
Paul McMullen (born February 19, 1972 in Cadillac, Michigan) was an American middle-distance runner who specialized in the 1500 meters. Paul was known by some as "the pride of Cadillac" after qualifying and competing in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
McMullen finished tenth at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics in Gothenburg, Sweden and the 2001 World Championships in Athletics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He won the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials 1500 m and was a semi-finalist Atlanta Summer Olympics the same year. He won National Championships in 1995 (1500 m), 1996 (1500 M) and 1998 (Indoor Mile). His personal best 1500 m time is 3:33.89 minutes, achieved in July 2001 in Monte Carlo Monaco. In 2001, Track and Field News ranked him at number one in the US.
In 1997, McMullen lost parts of two toes when his foot slipped under a lawnmower he was operating. He returned to the sport in December 1998, and as the results above indicate, was able to run even faster than before the accident; Runner's World referred to him, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as "the world's fastest eight-toed miler."
Paul McMullen attended Eastern Michigan University and graduated in accounting. After graduation, he ran three seasons for Asics Shoes and four seasons Saucony Shoes before enlisting in the United States Coast Guard at age 29 and served four years as a surface swimmer and Federal Boarding Officer on the Great Lakes. McMullen still holds the Coast Guard's Cape May New Jersey Training Center 1.5-mile run record of 7:09 which he ran on week 6 of basic training in December 2002. McMullen last broke the four-minute mile at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon at the age of 32 then later retired from running after failing to make the 2004 Olympic Team while representing the US Coast Guard.
Hall of Fame inductions: He was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 2000 and Eastern Michigan's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
Before his death, he worked as a Life Safety Consultant for EPS Security and competed in masters road cycling events during the summer. McMullen was married to his high school girl-friend Nuria De Soto Queralto of Spain. He has two children from his first marriage, Olivia, 13 and David, 8. His wife Nuria of three years gave birth to their first child Catalina on July 5, 2014. Paul is also brother to Phil McMullen (a fireman paramedic in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, California and former world class decathlete).
A few follow-up items to your posting:
Bob Parks was the Assistant to Coach George Dales of Western Michigan University when the Broncos won consecutive NCAA cross-country title in 1964 (at four miles) and 1965 (at six miles). He then went on to his stellar career at Eastern Michigan University. Parks and Dales had a great rivalry over the ensuing years in the MAC.
Paul McMullen's first wife was Jill Stamison, an outstanding runner for WMU who set a PR of 2:00.51 at the 1997 World Championships.
Paul was a strong, powerful looking runner.
Phil McMullen, Paul's brother, was a decathlete at WMU, who finished fourth, as I remember, in the U S Trials, in his only bid at the Olympics in 2004.
That's really a shame for this coach/athlete. Bob Parks had to be the most successful T&F coach in MAC history. His results were incredible. I always wondered how he did it because his results were greater than even a standout coach could produce although I knew that EMU had in-state tuition for Ohio residents. Finally I discovered that EMU also gave full academic scholarships to those HS kids with more than a 3.4, another real boost. Even though armed with those big advantages, Bob continued to attract amazing people in every event, then coach them up in almost every instance. We should look up the EMU men's records to fully appreciate Bob's work.