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 William J. “Bill” Bowerman

William J. “Bill” Bowerman

Birth
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Death 24 Dec 1999 (aged 88)
Fossil, Wheeler County, Oregon, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 8353 · View Source
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Coach, Co-founder of Nike, Inc. Born in Portland and raised in Fossil, a town in eastern Oregon, and in Medford. He was a quarter-miler and a football blocking back at the University of Oregon and was accepted to medical school after graduating in 1934. Instead he became the track and football coach at Medford High School and, after serving as an Army officer in Italy during World War II, embarked on his collegiate coaching career. He became the head track coach at the University of Oregon in July, 1948. Bill's "Track Men of Oregon" won 24 NCAA individual titles with wins in 15 of the 19 events contested and four NCAA team crowns in 1962, 1964, 1965 and 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, he coached the world record setting 4-mile (6.4 km) relay team in 1962. Bill created a training program for adjusting athletes for the high altitude that they would experience at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. This successful program led to his selection as the 1972 Munich Olympic Track and Field head coaching position. Bill coached members of teams from Norway, Canada, Australia, and the United States. In 1964, Bill 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 Bill experimented with improvements in athletic footwear design. He and Knight initially began importing the Onitsuka Tiger running shoes from Japan to sell in the States. After a dispute with their Japanese manufacturer, Bill and Knight began designing their own shoes in 1971, contracting at first with Asian factories. This is when they renamed their company Nike for the Greek goddess of victory and adopted the swoosh. The first waffle shoes were introduced at the 1972 United States Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon home of the University of Oregon. This forerunner was called the Moon Shoe, probably because the distinctive impression it made in the dirt was akin to Neil Armstrong's footprint on the moon three years before. Bill coached the United States men's track team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich at which Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. Bill served on Nike's board from 1968 until June 1999. He is survived by his wife, three sons, and six grandchildren. He died in his sleep at his home at the age of 88.

Bio by: Shock


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 30 Jan 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8353
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William J. “Bill” Bowerman (19 Feb 1911–24 Dec 1999), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8353, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.