|Birth Day:||February 19, 1911|
|Death Date:||Dec 24, 1999 (age 88)|
|Birth Place:||Portland, United States|
As per our current Database, Bill Bowerman died on Dec 24, 1999 (age 88).
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He worked as a journalist and a sometime high-school track coach before he was hired by his alma mater to coach track.
Bill Bowerman was born in Portland, Oregon. His father was former Governor of Oregon Jay Bowerman; his mother had grown up in Fossil. The family returned to Fossil after the parents divorced in 1913. Bowerman had an older brother and sister, Dan and Mary Elizabeth "Beth"; and a twin brother, Thomas, who died in an elevator accident when he was 2 years old.
In 1929, Bowerman attended the University of Oregon to play football and study journalism. At the suggestion of longtime track coach Bill Hayward, he also joined the track team. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. After graduating he taught biology and coached football at Franklin High School in Portland in 1934. In 1935, Bowerman moved back to Medford to teach and coach football during which won a state title in 1940.
Bowerman married Barbara Young on June 22, 1936. Their first son, Jon, was born June 22, 1938. William J. Bowerman, Jr. ("Jay") was born November 17, 1942.
Bowerman's duty entailed organizing the troops' supplies and maintaining the mules used to carry the supplies in the mountains. On December 23, 1944, the division arrived in Naples, Italy and soon moved north to the mountains of northern Italy. During his tour of duty, Bowerman was promoted to commander of the 86th Regiment's First Battalion at the rank of Major. Bowerman negotiated a stand-down of German forces near the Brenner Pass in the days before the surrender of the German army in all of Italy. For his service, Bowerman received the Silver Star and four Bronze Stars. He was honorably discharged in October 1945.
After the war, Bowerman returned to his position at Medford High School. Bowerman's third son, Tom, was born May 20, 1946. The family then moved to Eugene where he became the head track coach at his alma mater, the University of Oregon, on July 1, 1948.
Bowerman's "Men of Oregon" won 24 NCAA individual titles (with wins in 15 of the 19 events contested) and four NCAA team crowns (1962-1964-1965-1970), and posted 16 top-10 NCAA finishes in 24 years as head coach. His teams also boasted 33 Olympians, 38 conference champions and 64 All-Americans. At the dual level, the Ducks posted a 114–20 record and went undefeated in 10 seasons. In addition, Bowerman coached the world record setting 4-mile (6.4 km) relay team in 1962. This team consisted of Archie San Romani, Dyrol Burleson, Vic Reeve, and Keith Forman with a time of 16:08.9. Six years later, another Oregon team of Roscoe Divine, Wade Bell, Arne Kvalheim and Dave Wilborn improved the record to 16:05.0. Among athletes that Bowerman coached are: Otis Davis, Steve Prefontaine, Kenny Moore, Bill Dellinger, Mac Wilkins, Jack Hutchins, Dyrol Burleson, Harry Jerome, Sig Ohlemann, Les Tipton, Gerry Moro, Wade Bell, Dave Edstrom, Roscoe Divine, Matt Centrowitz, Arne Kvalheim, Jim Grelle, Bruce Mortenson and Phil Knight.
During a trip to New Zealand in 1962, Bowerman was introduced to the concept of running as a fitness routine, including people of an advanced age, through a running club organized by his friend and coaching colleague Arthur Lydiard. Bowerman brought this concept back to the United States, and began to write articles and books about running. He also created a running program in Eugene that became a national model for fitness programs. A Jogger's Manual, a three-page guide, was published shortly after Bowerman returned from New Zealand. In 1966, along with cardiologist W.E. Harris, Bowerman published a 90-page book titled Jogging. The book sold over a million copies and was credited with igniting the jogging phenomenon in the United States. The new crop of older athletic people contributed to the evolution of the sport of track and field to create a new division for these masters athletes. Due to the popularity of Jogging, Harris and Bowerman published a 127-page book in 1967.
In 1964, Bowerman entered into a handshake agreement with Phil Knight, who had been a miler under him in the 1950s, to start an athletic footwear distribution company called Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike, Inc. Knight managed the business end of the partnership, while Bowerman experimented with improvements in athletic footwear design. Bowerman stayed in Eugene, keeping his coaching job at the University of Oregon, while Knight operated the main office from Portland. Bowerman and Knight initially began importing the Onitsuka Tiger running shoes from Japan to sell in the United States. Initially, the partnership was 50-50, but shortly afterwards Bowerman wanted it changed to 51-49, with Knight having the higher ownership. He did this to avoid potential gridlock and have one of them be in charge of final decisions.
Bowerman's design ideas led to the creation of a running shoe in 1966 that would ultimately be named "Nike Cortez" in 1968, which quickly became a top-seller and remains one of Nike's most iconic footwear designs. Bowerman designed several Nike shoes, but is best known for ruining his wife's Belgian waffle iron in 1970 or 1971, experimenting with the idea of using waffle-ironed rubber to create a new sole for footwear that would grip but be lightweight. Bowerman's design inspiration led to the introduction of the so-called "Moon Shoe" in 1972, so named because the waffle tread was said to resemble the footprints left by astronauts on the moon. Further refinement resulted in the "Waffle Trainer" in 1974, which helped fuel the explosive growth of Blue Ribbon Sports/Nike. While Bowerman was experimenting with shoe design, he worked in a small, unventilated space, using glue and solvents with toxic components that caused him severe nerve damage. The nerve damage to his lower legs left him with significant mobility problems; as Kenny Moore notes in his book Bowerman and the Men of Oregon, Bowerman had rendered himself unable to run in the shoes that he had given the world.
In 1972, Bowerman stepped back from day-to-day coaching activities to conduct fundraising for renovating the Hayward Field grandstands that would be necessary for the consideration of hosting the Montreal Olympic Trials. He also ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in the Oregon Legislature in 1970 as a Republican, losing by only 815 votes out of 61,000 cast. According to the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper, Bowerman officially retired as the University of Oregon head coach on March 23, 1973, and was succeeded by assistant coach Bill Dellinger.
During the Munich Massacre in the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Bowerman was frequently blamed for a dismal performance by the US Track Team, Israeli Olympic racewalker Shaul Ladany escaped the PLO terrorists, and then awakened Bowerman and alerted the German police. Bowerman called for the U.S. Marines to come and protect American Olympians swimmer Mark Spitz and javelin thrower Bill Schmidt.
Athletics West is an American running team formed by Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight and Geoff Hollister in 1977. At the time, America had no definitive running program for young athletes to continue competing outside of college. The formation and success of Athletics West, together with the success and popularity of American runners like Craig Virgin (charter member), Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers helped inspire the 1970s running boom.
Bowerman is a member of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, Oregon's Athletic Hall of Fame, the RRCA Distance Running Hall of Fame, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His statue, holding a stopwatch, graces the northwest corner of Hayward Field, home of the Prefontaine Classic at the University of Oregon. A biographical film, Without Limits, about the relationship between record-breaking distance runner Steve Prefontaine and his coach Bill Bowerman was made in 1998, and Bill Bowerman was played by Donald Sutherland. The headquarters for Nike is located on Bowerman Drive in homage to the company's co-founder. Also in his honor, the company created the "Bowerman Series" of performance running shoes, designed to provide longer-lasting, more training-focused products to compete with such running brands as Asics and Saucony.
Bowerman died in his home in Fossil, Oregon at the age of 88 on Christmas Eve 1999.
In 2009, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association created The Bowerman, an award that is given to the most outstanding collegiate male and female track & field athlete in a given calendar year. Inaugural winners of the award were Oregon's Galen Rupp and Colorado's Jenny Barringer. The Bowerman trophy was designed by Tinker Hatfield, a Nike employee and former Oregon student-athlete coached by Bowerman.
Currently, Bill Bowerman is 110 years, 9 months and 8 days old. Bill Bowerman will celebrate 111th birthday on a Saturday 19th of February 2022.
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