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ACU Remembers: Bill Woodhouse

By on January 11, 2014 in ACU Remembers, Sports with 7 Comments

Bill Woodhouse 500x790Bobby Morrow (’58) has deservedly received accolades too numerous to count for his performances on the track at Abilene Christian University in the 1950s. But he ran with other talented Wildcats on the multiple world record relay teams that made headlines. One of them was Bill Woodhouse (’59), who died yesterday at age 77 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

At 5-8 and 155 pounds, Woodhouse was an atypical physical specimen, as his head coach, Oliver Jackson (’42) described in 1959 in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story:

“If I was going to shoot a sprinter, Bill Woodhouse would be the last man in the crowd I’d aim at. He looks like a running guard on a Class B single-wing team – short and squatty – and anything but the way you would picture a sprinter. As a matter of fact, I took him sight unseen upon the recommendation of Drake (University) track coach Tommy Deckard, and when he got off that train I said to myself that if he ever ran as fast as 10.2 I’d be surprised.”

But surprise he did, becoming the eighth sprinter to run 9.3 in the 100-yard dash and tie a world record – joining others from Oregon, Southern California, Northwestern, California, Duke, San Jose State and ACU (Morrow) – when he recorded that time at a meet in Abilene on May 5, 1959.

Bobby Morrow, Bill Woodhouse, James Segrest and ______ were a world-record-setting 440-yard relay team at Abilene Christian.

Bobby Morrow (’58), Bill Woodhouse (’59), James Segrest (’59) and Waymond Griggs (’58) were a world-record-setting relay team at Abilene Christian.

He ran a wind-aided 9.1 in the 100 (the third person ever to do that) during a quadrangular meet April 18, 1959, in Abilene between ACU, North Texas, Texas Tech and Arizona State, the same day he became the second runner to ever run below 20 seconds (19.9) in the 200-yard-dash.

Woodhouse was a member of the ACU Sports Hall of Fame, Drake Relays Hall of Fame and Penn Relays Wall of Fame. The latter honor came in 2004, when he was inducted with 10-time Olympic medalist Carl Lewis, four-time Olympians Joetta Clark and 1941 Sullivan Award (honoring the top U.S. amateur athlete) winner Les MacMitchell. He won four Penn Relays titles as a Wildcat.

See more details of Woodhouse’s remarkable career. A memorial service for him is planned for Jan. 14 at Seaside Funeral Home (4357 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412, 361-992-9411).

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There Are 7 Comments

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  1. Avatar Bill Mangino says:

    These were all great stars. Ed Southern will always be the definition of what a sprinter should be. He is a legend.

  2. Avatar Tom Richarson says:

    My dad was a good personal friend of Bill Woodhouse as Bill was his insurance agent in Corpus. The ironic tragedy of Bill’s life is that he developed diabetes and later lost a leg due to the disease. I didn’t know him well; but dad always spoke very highly of him. Bill jokingly swore that he actually beat Bobby Morrow in a head to head 100 yd sprint; but the photo finish was given to Bobby because he was taller.

    • Avatar John Felts says:

      Bill actually did win some vs Morrow. One evening when we went for a coke, Bill told me he had run a 30 flat 300 in practice that afternoon.

    • Avatar Dr.Bill Barnes says:

      I shared a house one summer in 1959 on College Drive a block from ACC with Bill and a couple of other college students.That summer was a lot of fun listening to his track stories.Dropped by his office in 2011 & did a lot of story telling.Didn’t realized Bill passed away since I live in Fort Worth…

  3. Avatar James Adrian MD says:

    One of my best college memories is seeing Woodhouse just suck up the other teams as he ran the second leg on the relay team. The speed of Woodhouse going so fast on the second leg usually produced an audible gasp from the crowd.

  4. Avatar John Felts says:

    Good memories of a great guy.

  5. Avatar Carole Cayce Clinton says:

    When I was a girl, my uncle took meet to the “Meet of Champions” in Houston. I have the program. I saw Bobby Morrow run like the wind but hurt his leg in what I beleive was his last race … he was winning at the time. I have Bobby’s autograph, and Bill Woodhouse’s (also a participant) and Eddie Southern’s (also a participant) autographs as well. I remember how exciting it was. RIP Bill.

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