The oldest living US Olympic medalist, Herb Douglas, died Saturday at the age of 101. The bronze medal in the long jump was won by Golden Hearted Douglas at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. A native of Pittsburgh, The Olympic Hero, Herb starred on both the football and track teams at the University of Pittsburgh.
When he was 14, Douglas met American track and field star Jesse Owens, and he was encouraged to go to college. Enrolled at Xavier University in New Orleans, he returned home to Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh.
Four intercollegiate championships in the long jump and another in the 100-yyard dash at Pittsburgh were won by Douglas. After finishing runner-up to Willie Steele at the Olympic trials, Douglas earned a spot on the 1948 US Olympic team. A leap of 24 feet, 9 inches by Douglas carried him to bronze behind gold medalist Steele and silver medalist Thomas Bruce of Australia.
Hoping to go into coaching after earning his master’s degree in education from Pittsburgh in 1950, Douglas found few coaching opportunities in his hometown. Establishing the Herb P. Douglas scholarship, he served as a mentor to track star Roger Kingdom, who won gold in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Douglas was inducted into the inaugural Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2018. Pittsburgh University is naming the 300-meter indoor track at its planned Victory Heights facility after Douglas. Herb Douglas maintained close ties with his alma mater throughout his life.
A champion of others, he never hesitated to help people pursue their own success. Herb Douglas was survived by his wife, Minerva Douglas; his daughter, Barbara Joy Ralston; his daughter-in-law, Susan Douglas; and four grandchildren.