Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 82 Departed Members of 1960 US Olympic Team


A few weeks ago Earl Young, 400 and 4x400 meters member of the 1960 US Olympic team that went to Rome, contacted us and sent some of his photographs and asked if we might remember his teammates who have passed away.  The first who came to my mind were Glenn Davis, Wilma Rudolph, Cliff Cushman, and Dick Howard.  But in doing a bit of research (sportreference.com)  I found the list to be much longer,  twenty-three total.   This posting is dedicated to those men and women of 1960 the departed and the living.  Have a joyous holiday from Roy and George and thank you for following our work on Once Upon a Time in the Vest. We will follow with a second posting honoring the still living members of that team.

Here is Earl Young's letter:


My pleasure to share those pictures with you. Saw Jack (Yerman)  in 2010 when Abilene Christian University honored my 50 year anniversary of Rome. He was thoughtful enough to join me at ACU. Great day.

I was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia September 2011. Had bone marrow transplant January 2012. My body is finally coming back and I am looking forward to some more life. That said --- it would be nice to have a spot on your blog that mentions those that are not with us any longer from the Rome team. Just a thought. There were some truly great Americans on that team. They were all older than me, and I had followed them for years. It all happened rather fast for me. I ran 49.6 May of 1958 as a senior in high school and 2 years later was standing on the winners' stand in Rome. 

Thanks for the great memories George. I may be in Vancouver in the next few months and would love to visit.

My Best,

Here is the list (alphabetically).  There are a number of links to articles about various individuals and in some cases, bios written specifically for this entry.  Special thanks to Pete Brown who wrote the synopsis of Dick Howard's life and career. If we went into detail or opened all the links, this would become a small book.  We leave it to you to open the links to remember more about these great athletes. ed.

John Allen

 John Allen was 24th in the 50Km race walk at Rome 5 hrs. 3 min.
His obituary in the Buffalo News does not even mention his being an Olympian.

Ed Bagdonas

Bagdonas at West Point

Edward Bagdonas - Ed served as the Troop Commander in late 1966 until Jan 1967. He passed away on Mar 29, 1985. He played football at West Point on the undefeated 1958 team. He represented the United States in the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome in the hammer throw. He retired after 21 years as a LTC. His last assignment was related to the development of the M1 Tank.  He is buried in the Wildwood Cemetery in Gardner, Worcester Co, MA. (from website of A Troop 3rd squadron 4th CAV 25th Infantry Division)

This famous picture by George Silk was taken of Ed Bagdonas at the 1960 Olympic trials with a photo finish camera to give
the distorted effect but one still showing the tremendous forces at work in the hammer throw.

Earlene Brown
Rome Bronze Medal Shot Put
Earlene had a second career in Roller Derby after she retired from Track and Field.

Lee Calhoun
2 Times Olympic Champion in 110 HH
 The following youtube collection shows many of Lee Calhoun's biggest races
thanks to  Leif Bugge for his wonderful collection of track videos on youtube.  You can find them by putting Leif's name in the search box of youtube.  There are over 200 videos of many of our heroes to be seen.

Peter Close

 1500 Meters
9th in heat 3 round one at Rome  time: 3:50.96 automatic
Hal Connolly


Harold Connolly, Who Beat Odds in Olympics and Romance, Dies at 79

Harold Connolly, who overcame a withered left arm to win the hammer throw in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and then married the women’s discus champion, Olga Fikotova of Czechoslovakia, after a storybook cold war romance, died Wednesday in Catonsville, Md. He was 79.
Associated Press
This obituary was from The New York Times in 2010
Harold Connolly won a gold medal despite a withered left arm.

Connolly was at his gym doing his regular workout on an exercise bicycle when he passed out, said his second wife, the former Pat Daniels, a three-time American Olympic runner and pentathlete. He apparently hit his head on the concrete floor and died, she said.
Connolly’s left arm was injured during birth, and he fractured it 13 times as a child. His left arm grew to be four and a half inches shorter than his right and his left hand two-thirds the size of his right. As he wrote of his childhood in his unpublished memoirs:
“I began to consider myself a reject, chained to a small army of twisted bodies in the hospital waiting room, and responded by trying to ignore my crippled associates. I wanted to push myself into the ‘normal’ society. I was a handicapped person who knows the agony of all-out trying and not accomplishing. They didn’t treat the disabled with dignity then. I couldn’t stand to be treated differently.”
When he won his Olympic gold medal, photographers yelled at him to raise his arms in triumph. He lifted only his right arm.
In 1991, he told The New York Times: “The thought of being patronized made me sick. I wanted to play by the rules, not rules adapted for me because I was disabled.”
The hammer is a 16-pound metal ball attached to a handle by a chain almost four feet long. The thrower spins three or four times in a ring and flings it. What Connolly lacked in arm strength, he made up for with speed and leg power.
Connolly competed in four Olympics, finishing eighth in 1960 (“Too much pressure,” he said) and sixth in 1964 and not qualifying for the final in 1968. In 1972, he finished fifth in the United States trials and failed to make the team.
In an event in which Americans seldom do well, he broke the world record six times, starting with 218 feet 10 inches in 1956 and ending with 233 feet 9 inches in 1965. Now, with improved training, coaching and technique, the record is more than 284 feet.
Connolly won nine United States titles in the hammer throw and three in the indoor 35-pound weight throw. In 1984, he was elected to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. In the 1956 Olympics, wearing ballet shoes for better footing, he won with a throw of 207-3. Years later, he said: “I was emotionally removed from the scene. I knew my life would never be the same. So I was standing there when the other medalists turned toward the flags for the national anthems. They started playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and I was stupidly still facing the stands, not the flags. I didn’t even hear the anthem.”
Mikhail Krivonosov of the Soviet Union, the world record holder and silver medalist, put his hand on Connolly’s hip, turned him and saved the day.
Earlier at those Olympics, Connolly met Fikotova. A romance ensued, and the next year he went to Prague and received permission from the Czech president to marry her. They were married in three ceremonies there, with a celebration before 40,000 well-wishers.
They were divorced in 1974. In 1975, he married Daniels, who became the coach of Evelyn Ashford and other outstanding runners.
Besides his wife, Connolly is survived by four children from his first marriage: two sons, Mark, of Las Vegas, and Jim, of Marina del Rey, Calif., and two daughters, Merja Connolly Freund of Corona del Mar, Calif., and Nina Southard of Costa Mesa, Calif.; two children from his second marriage: a son, Adam, of Silver Spring, Md., and a daughter, Shannon Podduturi, of Manhattan; a stepson, Bradley Winslow, of San Jose, Calif.; and five grandchildren.
Jim Connolly was the N.C.A.A. decathlon champion for U.C.L.A. in 1987, and Adam Connolly was America’s third-ranked hammer thrower in 1999.
Harold Vincent Connolly was born Aug. 1, 1931, in Somerville, Mass., and raised in Brighton, Mass. He paid his own way to Boston College, where he was a mediocre shot-putter. When he retrieved hammers in practice and threw them back farther than the hammer throwers had thrown them, he was switched.
He graduated in 1953 and later spent 30 years as a high school teacher and vice principal in Santa Monica, Calif., and 11 years as a Special Olympics executive. After retiring in 1999, he became a traveling coach and salesman for the hammer throw and ran the promotional Web site hammerthrow.org.
In 1983, he wrote in The New York Times that he had used anabolic steroids for many years, before they were illegal. He said he did not know if they had helped his performances. A year after he stopped using them, the 250 pounds on his 6-foot frame had dropped to 203. In later years, he opposed the use of steroids.
“I used to think that each athlete should decide for himself whether to use them,” he said. “Now the drugs are out of hand.”

Cliff Cushman
This first link appeared in our blog. Cliff  died in North Viet Nam. He was listed as
an MIA for many years.
Lots of good testamonials to Cliff on this following link

Glenn Davis

I asked Earl Young for his memories of Glenn Davis.  Here is his reply.
Hey George,

Like you, Glenn Davis was a hero of mine, and many athletes who appreciated his ability to take his talent to the greatest level of excellence. I have never known an athlete that could play harder and work harder than Glenn. He had a great zest for life and will always be remembered as a world class 400 hurdler and 400 meter runner. He held the World and Olympic record in those events and I had the good fortune to run with him on a World and Olympic record setting 1600 meter relay in Rome in 1960.

The greatest memory I have of him was at a track meet at Abilene Christian one day in April 1960. It was following his competing in an open 300 against Bobby Morrow and others in a race for those who were past college eligibility and readying themselves for the Olympic Trails in Palo Alto. He won the race. 

As a background to this story let me say I had been recruited by Oliver Jackson who was the coach of Bobby Morrow and  many successful sprint relay teams at Abilene Christian. Oliver and Bobby came out to the Coliseum Relays in 1958 and stopped by San Fernando to take Dad and I to lunch. Oliver had never seen me run but must have seen something in a picture of me finishing a 100 yard dash that caught his interest. I was 17 years old with more growth to come.  I had a best time in High School of 49.6 in the 440 and when Glenn showed up in Abilene for the meet I was a 19 year old sophomore with a best of 46.6. I had come a long way in two years but I admit the Games was still an unbelievable dream. 

Following the mile relay ( first time Glenn ever saw me run ) Glenn, Oliver and I were standing together and talking ( can you imagine what was going on in this 19 year old  mind -- I was talking to THE Glenn Davis). I remember that Coach said to Glenn, " We are getting Earl ready for the Trials and a berth on the Rome Team". Glenn said these unforgettable words. "You will make it". Some words never leave your memory. The great Glenn Davis telling me I would make the Team. He was right.

One of my proudest achievements is that my name is next to Glenn's name on a World and Olympic Record in the 1600 meter relay.

The above link is film of the 400 IH at Rome

Charles Dumas
Al Hall

Dick Howard
Dick Howard and Glenn Davis after the Rome 400IH
This memorial comes from Dick Howard's teammate, Pete Brown and Dennis Kavanaugh.

Dick Howard was born on August 22, 1935, in Oklahoma City. He came on the track scene running the 120 low hurdles in junior high in Pasadena, CA, in the early 1950s. He got married at age 18 and joined the US Army in 1954 for two years active duty. He boxed in 1955 while in the Army and posted a 200m low hurdle time of 23.6 on a tour competing in Europe. No marks appear for Howard in 1956.

In 1957 Howard ran for the Southern California Striders and posted a best of 23.0 in the 220 lows. In 1958 he placed 4th in the National AAU 440 hurdles in 51.9. He thus qualified for a US touring team that saw competition in Japan. There he met javelin thrower Buster Quist who steered him to New Mexico and a new life.

In the fall of 1958 he enrolled in the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. In the spring of 1959, competing as a Lobo, his career exploded. He ran the 220 lows in a US best of 22.4 in the Skyline meet. He also posted marks of 9.6 and 47.4, but it was the 440 hurdles where he excelled, winning Kansas in a PR of 50.4, also winning Fresno and Compton meets and taking 1st in the NCAA in 50.6. In Boulder he won the AAU meet over world record holder Glen Davis in 50.7. He also placed 2nd in the USA vs. Russia meet. He made a successful AAU tour of Scandinavia and finished a long season with a 2nd in the Pan American Games in Chicago in early September. He ranked #2 in the world in 1959 in the 440 hurdles.

Howard’s final season of competition was 1960. He led off with boxing--by winning the regional Golden Gloves light heavyweight crown in Roswell, NM, on Feb. 5th. Running unattached he placed 2nd in the AAU at 50.3 and 2nd in the Olympic Trials in 49.8 at Stanford. At the age of 25 he took the Bronze Medal at the Olympic Games in Rome in a PR of 49.7. It was the apex of a short, but brilliant, career.

Married and the father of five young girls, his life gradually spun out of control over the next six years. He had a series of lost jobs and his marriage to wife Wrenetta came apart. In October 1967 he was sentenced to 7 ½  years in jail in a Tucson district court for smuggling a large quantity of marijuana over the border at Nogales. He became badly depressed while awaiting results of an appeal and died of a drug overdose on November 9, 1967. 
Stone Johnson

Died of injuries in an NFL exhibition game
Johnson (extreme left)  finishing 4th in 200m
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JH-K_zwS0A this youtube has a good close up head shot of Johnson for a few seconds after the race concluded.
Deacon Jones
Raised at Boys Town Nebraska
He was  a 135 pound running back for the Boys Town varsity football team.

Johnny Kelley

Winner of the Boston Marathon and Enduring Guru of the Sport

Willie May
Gordon McKenzie
Parry O'Brien

One of the great innovators in Track and Field

Al Oerter

 Olympic Champion in 4 games

Bo Roberson

Silver Medal Long Jump
The only person with an Ivy League degree (Cornell), a Phd., an Olympic Medal
and a career in the NFL


Wilma Rudolph
Wilma put women's track on the American public's mind.


Herman Stokes
We were not able to find any individual pictures of Herman Stokes , however John Bork was kind enough to provide this page of the 1960 Olympic team report that he copied at the LA84 Foundation Library this week on a visit  with his college coach George Dales.    Herman Stokes can be seen in the upper right corner of this picture next to Bob Soth.  

Mr. Stokes was born in Houston, Texas  October 16, 1932 and died in Los Angeles January 25, 1998. His Olympic career can be viewed at the link below.  He placed 28th in the Triple Jump at the Rome Games.   He was in the top five Triple Jumpers in the US from 1957-1963.  He was second at the Pan-Am games in 1959.  His club affiliation was the Southern California Striders.  If any reader is aware of more personal information, please contact the blog at the email address listed at the top of this page. 
John Thomas
Max Truex


This link covers Max's life in a series of clippings from his hometown paper in Warsaw, Indiana.
A lot of  readers from the West Coast probably didn't know of this  Socal Trojan and US Olympian, Max's Midwest origins. The few times I drove from Dayton to Chicago, I would pass through Ft. Wayne and head west and get off the main road to drive through Warsaw, Indiana just to absorb some of that small town atmosphere. The same can be said of nearby Fairmount, IN, home of James Dean another icon of the 1950's.  

Willye White
5 time Olympian
Willye would compete for the Mayor Daly Youth Foundation team at the Ohio AAU meets in Dayton, OH when I was in high school.  Where Willye stood is where it was happenin'.  She was one of those persons to whom all eyes turned when she entered a room or stepped on a track.

Ron Zinn


Ron Zinn                   27              US           Race Walker   Viet Nam     1965
Ron Zinn's sixth-place in the 1964 Olympic 20 km. walk was one of the top performances in walking for an American at the Olympics. Zinn also won a bronze medal in the event at the 1963 Pan American Games. From 1960-64 he won 12 AAU walk titles over various distances. Zinn was a graduate of the US Military Academy and was sent to Vietnam late in 1964. In July 1965 he was presumed killed in a firefight near Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), although for many years he was listed as MIA. The USATF annually awards the Captain Ron Zinn Memorial Award to the top racewalker of the year.
Personal Best: 20kmW – 1-32:43 (1964).

http://www.virtualwall.org/dz/ZinnRL01a.htm   This is the link to Ron's site on the Virtual Wall to honor soldiers who died in  Viet Nam.  There are testamonials and tributes from his comrades in arms and his family.


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