Thomas Edward “Tom” Ragsdale

Thomas Edward “Tom” Ragsdale

Grass Valley, Sherman County, Oregon, USA
Death Sep 2015 (aged 91)
Eugene, Lane County, Oregon, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 153102836 · View Source
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Obituary from the Eugene Register-Guard, September 13, 2015:

Tom was born on July 7th, 1924 to Ray and Alvina Ragsdale. The youngest of six children, he grew up on the family homestead in Grass Valley, Oregon. In 1932 the family moved to LaGrande, Oregon where his father opened an insurance office. Tom graduated from LaGrande high school in 1942.

Tom's love of running began in middle school when he would run to school, on errands for his mother or to the town golf course to caddy for local golfers. In high school he became involved with the sport of track and field, both as an athlete and as equipment manager. (It was reported that he ran a 4.24 minute mile at a local track meet.) Following high school, Tom spent one year attending Eastern Oregon College where his interest in coaching began.

In 1943, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Navy to join his three brothers in the battle of WWII. He served in the Pacific as a radioman on the Orion, a submarine tender ship. After returning home, he attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Health and Physical Education in 1950. He continued his education while becoming a student manager for track coach Bill Bowerman. Tom earned his Master of Education in 1955.

In 1952 he married Norma Jean Beetem, and after two years in Medford they moved to Eugene. Tom and Norma had three children, Brent, Donia and Robert. Tom began a career as a PE teacher at Cal Young Junior High School. At this time, based on the inspiration of Bill Bowerman, he and Robert Newland helped develop and direct the Oregon Track Club's (OTC) first all-comers meet at Hayward Field. Tom continued directing the meets for more than 20 years.

Throughout his career, Tom earned respect as a highly successful junior and high school coach, and in 1967 his North Eugene cross-country team won the state title. He inspired his teams by example, training with them. In 1968 he was awarded the Oregon High School Track and Field Cross Country Coach of the year.

Tom accepted a teaching/coaching position at North Eugene High School (NEHS) when it opened. He taught Driver Education and Health and PE classes. In addition he coached the cross-country team. He loved the outdoors and spent time with his two sons, Brent and Robert, on trips to various ski areas.

In 1981, Tom married Gayle Abbott Ingerson, a teacher at NEHS. After retirement they both enjoyed backpacking, skiing in the Central and Eastern Oregon mountains and traveling with friends to destinations including Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Both Tom and Gayle were active members and served on the board of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Tom is the longest standing member of the OTC. He helped shape the club's history over five decades from 1955 to 1991. He was the second inductee into the U of O Track and Field Hall of Fame. He served as Clerk of the Course for Hayward Field meets including NCAA championships from 1962 through 1988; National AAU championships 1971 and 1975; three Olympic Trials in 1972, '76 and '80; the Prefontaine Classic through 1989 and countless other meets. He also developed Eugene's first marathon, from Armitage Park, the precursor to the 1971 national AAU marathon and the 1972 Olympic Trials Marathon. Tom was honored for his life's work in coaching by receiving the inaugural Braithwaite award, presented at the annual OTC dinner meeting in 2014, for promoting fitness in youth and families.

Shortly after learning of her father-in-law's death, Alison Ragsdale wrote this tribute: "There are very few people that I've met in this world who would be called truly angelic. Tom Ragsdale was one of them. He was the kindest and most generous spirit that I've ever met. He took pleasure in other people's pleasure. He put himself last. He taught,nurtured and supported countless lives, in the town that he loved. Seldom could we go anywhere but someone knew Tom, and would tell us of the impact he had had on them. He was known, loved and respected."

"Tom left us this week, and there will always be a gap in our hearts that only he will fit. After 90 years of life - and what an incredible life - he's probably pacing around Hayward Field waiting for the next Olympic trials to begin. He was a man to be admired, to be emulated and most of all, to be remembered."

Tom is survived by his wife Gayle, his son Robert (Alison) Ragsdale of Virginia, his stepson Steve (Nancy) Ingerson of Salem, OR, his step-daughter Laurie Gregersen of Eugene, OR, his step-grandchildren Andy (Megan) and Mary Gregersen, Julika and Sam Ingerson and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Tom was pre-deceased by his daughter Donia Ragsdale and his son Brent Ragsdale.

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  • Created by: THR
  • Added: 1 Oct 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 153102836
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Edward “Tom” Ragsdale (7 Jul 1924–Sep 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 153102836, ; Maintained by THR (contributor 48277533) Unknown.