Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Thursday, September 28, 2017

V7 N. 65 George Dales, Former Western Michigan Track Coach R.I.P.

George Dales (1922-2017)

Richard Mach who was one of George Dales' stalwart runners in the early 1960's contacted us this morning with news of the passing of his coach at Western Michigan University.

"John Bork called me a little after 9 last night to tell me our coach , whom we planned to visit on the 9th of Octobert, had passed away around 8pm.  He was 95 last month and in waning health."

"He coached two NCAA individual champions in track and field in Ira Murchison and John as well as two back-to-back team NCAA championships in cross country in 1964-1965.   He made many academic contributions to the sport after his retirement in 1970, both nationally and internationally and did tireless work, much of it gratis, on behalf of track and field in many capacities including pursuing scientific advances as well as administrative positions spanning well into the new millenium."
Coach Dales with the majority of those 1964 and 1965 NCAA Cross Country Team Champions
"He was possessed of great energy and acuity of mind well into his 80s,  which assured the continued quality of his contributions long beyond the usual.   He collaborated with Gideon Ariel,  the talented biomehanics maven, who developed a sequence that "computerized" biomechanical analysis back in the very early 70s.  And when Bill Bowermann was selected as coach of the year by the USTFCA, he publically stated on the podium the award should have gone to George."

"George Dales was born in West Virginia in 1922 and moved to Cleveland in mid-childhood where his Greek father set up a confectionary store.  After attending Miami University as a gymnist just short of a degree, he went into the service  and with his unusual accumen and skills, was rapidly promoted within the US Navy, where aboard an advanced cruiser, the USS Alaska, he spent much of WWII creating and carrying out physical fitness programs as well as basketball competitions.  He also accompanied the US Marines into China in the role of medic to rescue civilian personnel of many different nationalities caught by the occupation by the Japanese of portions of China."

"After the war, he returned to complete his degree, taught and coached in Cleveland for a short time, married his beloved Christine, then sought an advanced degree in PE @ UMich and became Don Canham's assistant there before being offered the head coaching job at Western Michigan, where he had numerous All Americans in both X-C and T&F.  He is survived by four daughters,

And, as they say, the rest is .... now ...... history."

This remembrance came to us from Paul O'Shea written by one of Coach Dales' daughters

George Dales was born in Excelsior, West Virginia in 1921 to humble beginnings.  The first son of Greek immigrant parents, George was taught the importance of heritage, hard work, and tenacity at an early age.  These core values served as the underpinnings for a very full life and an impressive professional career.
Recognizing that a higher education was the ultimate path to success, George worked multiple jobs to put himself through college, as well as to help support his family.  He shared stories of shining shoes during The Great Depression to encourage his daughters to maintain a strong worth ethic.  His hard work paid off:  George graduated cum laude from Miami of Ohio University.  In his senior year, he was recruited to attend the US Navy Fitness Instructor School where he taught swimming to Navy and Marine women cadets.
With WWII under way, George enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to the cruiser USS Alaska.  The Alaska escorted USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise as they conducted night bombing missions against Tokyo.  On the same tour, Alaska covered the landing operations at Iwo Jima.  Dales held the rank of Chief Petty Officer and Fitness Instructor on board the mega-ship, with keeping the 1517 sailors well-conditioned among his responsibilities.  His Navy career took him to the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China.
After his tour, George accepted a graduate assistantship at University of Michigan, where he earned two graduate degrees (with honors), before becoming Associate Professor of Phys Ed and Head Cross Country Coach at Western Michigan University in 1953.  In 1955, he married his wife Christine, who remained his biggest cheerleader throughout their 43 years together.  The couple raised four daughters, Maria, Janine, Corinne and Natalie, all of whom inherited their father’s drive to be the best.  
George’s career at WMU was the stuff that legends are made of.  His hard-driving style and “never say never” mantra led him to become the winningest coach in the school’s athletic history, outpacing the more recognized sports of football and basketball.  Under his watch, WMU earned two NCAA team titles in cross country; 12 Mid-American Conference crowns in track & field; 8 Mid-American Conference crowns in cross country, and produced stand-out athletes, national record holders, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and 25 All Americans.  Honors and accolades abound, including Hall of Fame memberships too many to list; the WMU George Dales Scholarship, awarded to an outstanding scholar athlete; the annual USTFCCCA George Dales Award, presented to an exceptional track & field or cross country coach, and a stint as an assistant track coach to the Greek Olympic track team, to name a few.

Anyone who knew George knows that he was extremely proud of his Greek heritage and its contributions to sport, specifically the Olympic Games.  He attended every Olympic Games from 1952 to 2008, often as an advisor to the US team and occasionally as press.  These travels took him to Helsinki, Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo, Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing.  When it came to travel in Greece, George was a fountain of knowledge, excited to introduce friends, family and occasional by-standers to the rich heritage and beautiful sights of his motherland. He loved to regale anyone who would listen with tales of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Marathon, the grand-daddy of the modern marathon.  George told the tales so passionately and frequently that, when grew into his 90s, his daughters surmised that he probably had an all-access pass to the first marathon.  
A treasured memory was the family’s 2004 trip to the Olympic Games in Athens.  George, Christine, their daughters and families, enjoyed field level access to watch Track & Field superstars from around the world make history.  George carried with him his signature accessory:  A 3-inch stack of index cards rubber-banded together, scribbled with world record stats and qualifying times, affectionately dubbed, “Dad’s palm pilot”.
Relating some of their Dad’s trademark expressions, the Dales girls shared these:
-“A car is a tool---it doesn’t need to have a radio.”
-“I’ll eat the cow, you eat the grass.” (to his vegetarian daughters)
-“You girls don’t need shampoo—in the Navy, we used bars of soap.” (All the more amusing since he was bald.)
Retirement didn’t slow George down. He remained integrally involved in his beloved sports until his final days. He coordinated international Congresses for up-and-coming coaches and established a mentoring program to help sustain a legacy of excellence.  He was the President of the International Track & Field Coaches Association; Editor of the Track & Field Quarterly; the Secretary-Treasurer of the US Track Coaches Association; and Commissioner of the Central Collegiate Conference.  Despite his advancing years, he was still a frequent sight on the field, bouncing from the starting line to track-side with words of encouragement.  
George was the greatest advocate for Track & Field that the sport has ever known.  He worked tirelessly to polish the raw talents of his athletes while always reminding them that they were part of a greater tradition.  Later in life, he continued to lobby to “Bring Back Track” to WMU, a battle that he never gave up on, but was not able to achieve.  Asked what he hoped his legacy would be, George’s wish was simple: “I hope I helped inspire people to be champions in sports and in life.”

Refer to that 1965 XC Season

George Dales and His Western Michigan XC Legacy  This very good article just appeared today.

Article on George Dales by Paul O'Shea Originally Appearing in Cross Country Journal

Thursday, September 21, 2017

V 7 N. 64 Bernie Casey, national class hurdler R.I.P.

Bernie Casey, Bowling Green State University, national class hurdler in the late 1950s and early 1960s died this week as reported below in Variety.  Bernie won the Mid American Conference 120HH titles in 1958,59, and 60.   Casey competed in the 1960 Olympic Trials  where he finished sixth in 14.2.  He  then played flanker  with the San Francisco 49er for six years.  Bernie Casey followed football into the arts world, acting, writing, and directing in multiple films.  He was also an accomplished artist and published poet.

from Variety Sept. 21, 2017

Bernie Casey, the former NFL star known for his work in the films “Boxcar Bertha” and “Revenge of the Nerds,” died on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, Variety has confirmed. He was 78.
Casey made his film debut in the 1969 sequel “Guns of the Magnificent Seven.” He then acted alongside fellow former NFL star Jim Brown in the crime dramas “…tick…tick…tick…” and “Black Gunn.” He played the title role in the 1972 science fiction TV film “Gargoyles,” and then portrayed Tamara Dobson’s love interest in 1973’s “Cleopatra Jones.”
With Burt Reynolds in Sharkey's Revenge

Casey wrote, directed, produced, and starred in “The Dinner,” a 1997 film centering on three black men who discuss slavery, black self-loathing, and homophobia. That same year, he loosely portrayed a version George Jackson, a member of the Black Panther Party who was killed, in the drama “Brothers.”
In Martin Scorsese’s “Boxcar Bertha,” he played a heroic former slave and train robber, and then a recurring character in Bond films, CIA agent Felix Leiter. In 1981, he portrayed a detective opposite another former NFL player-turned-actor, Burt Reynolds, in “Sharky’s Machine,” which was directed by Reynolds. The two worked together a few years later on “Rent-a-Cop.”
His prolific acting career also included films such as “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Black Chariot,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “In the Mouth of Madness,” “The Glass Shield,” “Mr. Hyde,” “Once Upon a Time … When We Were Colored,” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” On television, he was in “Roots: The Next Generations,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Bay City Blues.”
Casey was born in Wyco, W.Va., and raised in Columbus, Ohio, before attending Bowling Green State University on a football scholarship. There, in addition to his football successes, he was a record-breaking track and field athlete, and competed in the 1960 U.S. Olympic trials.
He was picked ninth overall in the NFL draft, and spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before going to the Rams for two years. He retired at age 30 and finished his professional career with 359 catches for 5,444 yards and 40 touchdowns.
After leaving the NFL, he dabbled in acting, painting, and poetry. Casey received an honorary doctorate degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He advocated for arts education and served as chairman of the board at the Georgia school. Casey was both a published poet and painter, whose work appeared in galleries across the globe.

Dear George:

Bernie Casey R.I.P.

I remember, Bernie Casey as a Bowling Green Hurdler. I believe that it was at the 1961 MAC Track & Field Championships
Bernie Casey, was holding forth at one end of the track infield,  as he sat in a lawn chair, while more than a few of us got the courage to go over to him, to wish him well in the NFL, etc..He was a celebrity to most of us.

Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, Carl Reid, My WMU roomate& teammate, Nick Kitt from Miami of Ohio and 2-3 other guys got season tickets to the LA Rams home games, where we first saw Bernie Casey as a " S.F. Forty-Niner and later as an LA Ram. I could not believe it when the Forty-Niners traded him to the Rams. I thought they were crazy!  John Bork Jr.

Keep me updated on whatever you have on Marc's progress.   We all hang by a thread.  Just reading about Puerto Rico.  Damn, what suffering on top of the massive economic problem.   I'm sitting here under the 50 foot redwood I planted as a shoot 30 years ago, slightly upset because it is only 53 degrees so I have to wear a sweater and a bathrobe.  Everything is relative.  Roy Mason

   I really enjoyed the posting about Bernie Casey, even though it was about his death.  I always admired him because of his multiple talents and multiple sport.  He reminded me a lot of Wilbur Wright grad Bing Davis who was also an artist.  Those old pictures were really interesting as well, bringing back memories and also information about an era previous to my track involvement.       Bill Schnier

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

V7 N. 63 Martin Broomall Biles, Olympic Javelin Thrower R.I.P.

Martin Broomall Biles    passed away August 25, 2017 in Houston, TX..  Biles finished 6th in the javelin in the 1948 Olympics with a throw of 65 meters.   For many years he resided in Naples, FL and the following edited Obituary appeared in the Naples Daily News on Sept. 20, 2017.


Martin passed peacefully on August 25, 2017 in Houston, Texas at the age of 98. He lived a long and rich life filled with personal satisfactions and achievements

He was born in San Diego, California on March 30, 1919 to Herbert Elmore and Anna Elizabeth (Broomall) Biles. He attended the University of California at Berkeley where he earned his BS and MS in Engineering, and after WWIIcontinued his studies to earn a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University.

At Cal he was a star athlete where he was the AAU javelin champion in 1943-44, after winning the NCAA javelin title in 1940-41. He represented the United States in the first post war Olympics held in London in 1948 in the Javelin event.

After being discharged from the Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel he worked for the Atomic Energy Commission until retirement in 1977 with the title of Director of Operational Safety. In this capacity he also served as Scientific Attaché with the US Embassies in Brussels and Paris.

He lived in Kensington, Md. for 40 years with his first wife, Francis Lee Kennedy and daughters before moving in 2001 to Naples with Lee who died in 2002.
An inurnment ceremony will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a time to be determined.
Published in Naples Daily News on Sept. 20, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

V 7 N. 62 He works hard for the money - Larry Jessee

Larry Jessee

Larry Jessee, a Miamisburg, Ohio native has led an interesting and varied  path in the pole vaulting world that would fill several books and might have made a great reality show.  Once in awhile a new story about Larry pops up from a source.  Phil Scott who knew Larry quite well, comes up with something every now and then.  Third hand knowledge tells me that Larry set up a runway on his driveway and a pit in the back yard of his residence in Miamisburg to train, coach, and encourage young vaulters back in the 1970s.  Even made some world record attempts in the yard.  Phil claims one evening of coaching added two feet to his PR when he was a young and aspiring decathlete.

This story about  Larry is documented in the El Paso, TX newpaper where Larry now makes his home.  It goes back to when Larry won a $50,000 bet (with Lloyd's of London) that he could set a Masters WR in the pole vault.  I guess betting is an accurate way of describing a relationship with an  insurance company.  In this case Larry and his backers put up almost $4,000 to 'bet' that he could break the record.  Turns out he had done the same thing earlier in the year and won $30,000.

Here is Larry's bio from the UTEP Hall of Fame page.

Men's Track & Field (1974-75)
A three-time All-American who was a member of three NCAA championship teams, Larry Jessee was a standout performer with the men's track & field team from 1974-75. The 1974 NCAA indoor pole vault champion still owns the UTEP school record for the event at 18'. He became the eighth man in history to clear that height. Jessee had a decorated career following his time with the Miners, going on to compete with the United States National Team eight times. He was the 1977 and '78 USA Indoor Champion and became the American record holder in 1982 when he cleared 18-8. In his master's career, he held six world records from 1992-96. Jessee became the first and only man older than 40 to vault 18'. Jessee also served as an assistant coach with the Miners, directing four WAC Champions and three All-Americans. He has been inducted into the El Paso, UTEP Track & Field and Ohio Track & Field Halls of Fame.

  Here's the Masters WR  story via the El Paso Times  October 16, 1994

Considering that this year's world championships in London paid  $60,000 for a win and $100,000 for a WR, Larry was doing very well 23 years ago.  Putting those dollars into today's dollars, he may even have exceeded today's payout.  According to historic inflation tables,  $50,000 in 1994 would now be  $82,586 today.

This story makes me fantasize that if we are looking for ways to build spectator interest in the sport, a new approach might be that a meet be held where athletes compete against Lloyds of London putting up money that they can make a certain height, distance or time.    In the old days the Aussies had 'professional' athletes running for money, handicapping races, and taking bets in the stands.  Sports like pro football draw tremendous followings not only because people like the game, but also because many of them are playing fantasy leagues and betting heavily on point spreads, or in office pools.  Larry has shown that he could make a decent living out of the sport way back in 1994. Frankly, I would never get into a card game with Larry.

Monday, September 4, 2017

V 7 N. 61 More Old Track Photos 1962

Continuing with photos from the Track and Field Annual Newsletter 1962

Roger Sayers, U. of Omaha defeating Bob Hayes.   Roger is Gayle Sayers lesser known brother.

Gary Gubner

Dave Maggard

Billy Joe

Mel Renfro and Jerry Tarr

Keith Forman, Archie San Romani Jr., Dyrol Burleson, and Vic Reeve

Keith Forman

A young Dave Archibald

Roger Olson NCAA HJ champion

John McGrath

Detroit High Schooler Henry Carr, Olympic Champion to be

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...