Wednesday, October 7, 2015

V 5 N. 92 Miki Gorman, Bill Skinner, Beaufort Brown, and Ralph Fessenden, R.I.P.

with Jerome Drayton after 1974 Boston victory

We recently received notice that Miki Gorman passed away at age 80  in September after being diagnosed with cancer about five years ago.   Many of you will remember her as one of the first really good women marathoners.   When only a few women were starting to run marathons, Miki was regularly running sub 2hrs. 50 minutes at that distance and ultimately ran a world best 2 hr. 39 min. 11seconds.  Her first marathon was in 1974 at the Western Hemisphere Marathon in Culver City, CA.  She ran 2hr 46min 36 sec.    An Australian lady Adrienne Beames had run slightly better 2 hr. 46min. 30  over an accurately measured course, but it was as time trial, not an actual race.    Miki Gorman ran in the days before the marathoning and other distance races were added to the list of Olympic events, so her name does not appear in that list of records, but she certainly would have been a major player had there been a women's marathon in 1976.

Miki was born in China to Japanese parents in 1938.  Her father was in the Japanese army of occupation in northeast China.  After WWII she came to the states in 1963 to Carlisle, PA to work and study.  She married Michael Gorman and they came to California.  She joined a gym to workout to put on some weight as she was so small,  5 ft. 87 pounds, but got into running and entered an indoor, 100 miler, but dropped out at 86 miles.  The next year she completed that race.   Eventually she got into training under the eye of Lazlo Tabori, and she was soon burning up the roads.  In 1974, four months after that first marathon, she entered Boston and won in 2hr. 47min. 11 sec.  The following year she was second at Boston, then began a three race winning streak in 1976-77 with victories at NYC, Boston, and again at NYC at age 42.  In 1978 she set a world best time in the half marathon at 1hr. 15min. 58 sec.   Shortly afterward injuries ended her career.

She was honored in several running halls of fame, including Road Runners Club of America, National Distance Running HOF, and New York Road Runners HOF.

Others who have left us

Bill Skinner,   Tennessee All American

Skinner was an NCAA Champion javelin thrower in 1970

Oct. 6, 2015

Bill Skinner Obituary
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Two-time All-American and VFL Bill Skinner passed away on Monday after a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer.
Skinner was an elite javelin thrower and lettered at Tennessee from 1968-70. He took second at the NCAA Championships in 1969 with a distance of 83.28m (273 feet, 3 inches) and won the NCAA title in 1970 with distance of 82.49m (270 feet, 8 inches). In 1970, he swept the NCAA, AAU and USTFF titles. Skinner set the Tennessee javelin record of 88.96m (291 feet, 10 inches) 1970, which predates IAAF javelin specifications in 1980

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Skinner (as he was known to all) left home at 17 to join the U.S. Navy and toured the world aboard the U.S.S. Canberra. He played semi-pro football with the Delaware Clippers, was an amateur boxer, and worked as a sheet-metal worker. On a bet, he picked up the javelin and days later won the Middle Atlantic AAU title. He went on to earn a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, sweeping the NCAA, AAU, and USTFF titles in 1970. He was a member of the New York Athletic Club, earned four All-American designations, won five National Championships, and was captain of the United States Track & Field Team. He also captained the men's track and field team at the 1971 Pan-American games in Cali, Columbia. He earned notoriety for being removed from the UT track team for refusing to shave his mustache, a feature article in Sports Illustrated, and status as one of the best javelin throwers in the world. His image appears (uncredited) on the side of the original U.S. Track & Field arcade game.

Beaufort Brown    University of Florida
Beaufort Brown passed away earlier this Fall.   Below is his short autobiography that appeared on the U. of Florida track site.

B. 1953 - D. 2015

Beaufort Brown

(born: Tampa, Florida USA 1953)
University of Florida 1971 – 1975 “The Genesis of Champions Era”
Coaches: Jimmy Carnes, Head; Roy Benson, Asst; Dave Atkins,
440 and Relays

I was recruited to the University of Florida's Track Program in 1971, by Head Coach Jimmy Carnes. While in Tampa Florida’s Middleton High School, I played football; was track team captain; and had won Championship titles at the Conference, District, Regional, and State levels.  When I was competing in the State of Florida’s Championship meet, Coach Carnes came to watch me run the 440 and the sprint medley relay—both of which I was favored to win. I anchored and won the relay; but when I made the mistake of looking back near the finish line, I lost the 440! As a result, Coach put me on the Gators’ team—but he wouldn’t give me a scholarship until I proved myself. From that point on, I never looked back—either literally or figuratively. My time as a Trackman at the University of Florida was The Best Time of My Life! I made some life-long friends with some great guys. Together, we put UF on the National Track and Field “map”, and we were among UF Track’s pioneers in “The Genesis of Champions” era. Florida’s jumpers, vaulters, and fielders were already soaring, so we runners began the tradition of the “Flat Out Flyin’ Florida Gators!” I loved impressing the fans with my trademark ‘flying’ leap across the finish line. The UF Track Team, several individuals and I became SEC Champions; my mile-relay teammates and I became National Champions; and I enjoyed earning a long list of honors and awards—including being elected team captain for an unprecedented three years! Coach Carnes encouraged me to be a versatile runner by challenging me to run everything from sprints to middle distances (100 – 880 yds)! I clocked some of the fastest times in the world for several events; ran in prestigious invitational meets; qualified for the Olympic Trials; and beat the Russians in the Jr. Olympics, while setting and shattering UF records all along the way! I even managed to make the Dean’s List! One newspaper article proclaimed, “Brown Is Beautiful!” and another nicknamed me, “Bodacious!”

Ralph Fessenden  University of Illinois

from the Oct. 7, 2015 Missoulian

October 1932-October 2015
MISSOULA – Ralph James Fessenden passed away Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. He was the son of Douglas Fessenden (former University of Montana Grizzly football coach) and Juliette (Armstrong) Fessenden.
He was educated in Missoula and Brownsville, Texas. He earned a track scholarship to the University of Illinois, where he excelled in running the 440-yard distance. In 1954 he placed fourth at the USA Track and Field Championships.  (editor's note:  I have not been able to verify this placing.  He did not appear in  the NCAA results.  This was probably the National AAU meet.)
He continued his chemistry studies at the University of Illinois, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He moved to California with his wife, Joan, and earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UC-Berkeley.
After teaching at San Jose State University, Ralph and his family moved to Missoula, where he taught in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Montana until retirement.
Ralph and Joan were internationally known organic chemistry authors, publishing their first book in 1971. Their books have been translated into six languages

Pete Brown sent us this confirmation:
Fessenden got 4th in the 1954 AAU 440 in 47.42 according to T&F News. Lea won, Mashburn second and Jones third.
Source: Track and Field News

1 comment:

Susan Abuasba said...

I remember Miki Gorman very well and had the privilege of being in the masses of some of the All Women road running events that came on the scene in the 1970's. I remember being in awe at how powerful she was for a tiny lady as well as thinking she was old for a runner!! HA! I also remember hearing the story how she got into running and again, was impressed she started later in life and achieved so much. She, along with Grete Waitz, Brenda Webb, Francie Laureau, Mary Decker, Julie Brown and my own Kettering Striders ladies who would come to practice from the University visits were big inspirations as women's distance running was in its infancy.

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