Sunday, April 15, 2018

V 8 N. 25 Jon Hendershott, A Friend and Colleague, R.I.P.

Jon Hendershott  1946-2018  R.I.P.
A Friend to Track and Field,
A Friend and Mentor to Me
by George Brose
Harry Marra and Jon Hendershott

April 11, 2018

Yesterday, I was informed of the passing of Jon Hendershott in Salem, Oregon.  Most of you reading this obituary have read Jon's work for the past 50 years in the pages of Track & Field News   You  read his poignant interviews with the greats of the sport, you are aware of  his incredible observation and analysis of all track and field events, his steadfastness, and his wit when the time was right.  I will miss this man whom I never met, but who I was privileged to get to know in a brief and memorable  passing.

When Jon 'retired' in 2015, he still needed an outlet for his craft.  He continued to do work for T&FN and the IAAF as well.  But somehow he also managed to find this blog on the recommendations of a another track writer and historian  Paul O'Shea.  Paul mentioned that we might have a place to put some of Jon's post retirement work where the public might see it.  And so a relationship was born.

Despite our working together via email, I had so much wanted to meet Jon and just hear some of his stories face to face and share a few of mine. If there had only  been time....   I was hoping that meeting would happen in Eugene next month at the Prefontaine Classic.  

Jon shared with me that one  of his first big indoor meets was  in Seattle or  Portland in 1963.   I can't remember if he was hurdling or spectating with his dad.  C.K Yang had broken the PV record when it was going up every weekend.   C.K. competed in the meet Jon attended.   The next weekend I was on my first college indoor road trip  in Lubbock, TX where Yang was vaulting and didn't break the record again but still held it when he went to bed that night.  The next morning I saw C.K. at the coffee shop and also picked up the paper noticing that John Uelses or someone had broken his world record Saturday night somewhere.  So I handed C.K.  the sports page.   He was a little disappointed but didn't throw anything at me for being the bearer of bad tidings.

Jon and I had some wonderful email correspondence.  I was really honored to put the first pieces of his post retirement work on our blog.  He was a stickler with form and format and I learned a lot about writing for the public in the short time last year that we worked together.

His knowledge was much, much greater than mine will ever be.  His recall was phenomenal.  He caught me when I made mistakes and gently reminded me when those transgressions occurred. He once noted a spelling error on a lesser known German name Lutz Philipp (I used to 'l's)  that I had posted.  Though he was a few years younger, he was definitely a mentor to me.

When Jon asked us about the possibility of placing some of his work on our site, we were stunned that he would even consider us.  Of course we accepted.  The following links are to those pieces he sent  us covering his favorite races at all distances and field events plus a piece about Harry Marra, Ashton Eaton's coach.    Here are the links to those articles.  We are also selecting a beautiful story that Paul O'Shea wrote about Jon at the time of his retirement

Harry Marra and Ashton Eaton

Hommage from Paul O'Shea

Here is the list of Jon's most memorable events by gender and event

Womens' Relays

Men's Relays

Women's Throws and Heptathlon

Men's Throws and Decathlon

Women's Jumps

Men's Jumps

Women's Distance and Marathon

Men's Distance and Marathon

Women's Middle Distance

Men's Middle Distance

Women's Sprints and Hurdles

Men's Sprints and Hurdles

George: I was saddened by the news of Jon's passing. This type of news is hard to take, and the knowledge in his brain is left without a response. We who love this sport will miss him. To replace such a individual as Jon probably not possible. Us track enthusiasts may never touch the surface of Jon's passion for the sport.  
Phil Scott

That's really sad news about Jon Hendershott, one of the great T&F writers of all time.  Although ours is a small community of avid but underpaid workers, Jon was at the top of a group of people devoted to the sport and dripping with accuracy.  His articles always got to the heart of the subject, were beautifully written, and told us all things we never would have known had it not been for him.  This is truly a loss for his immediate family and his T&F family as well.
   Bill Schnier

Please note that ownership of these pieces is not ours, but I would assume belong to Jon's estate unless he had made other arrangements.  ed.

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