Bob Hunt dies at 93; Masters Hall of Famer and HS coaching icon

Bob Hunt in full flight.

Bob in full flight. Photo from Karen Vaughn

Robert “Bob” Hunt, a world-class hurdler in his 50s and 60s inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 2004, died Saturday at an Anaheim hospital in Southern California, his son said. He was 93. David Hunt told me by phone tonight that his father competed in 20 countries and even tackled the decathlon. His wife of 70 years, Marge, died in 2009 and also competed. Bob had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease but will never be forgotten at Katella High School, where he was an assistant girls track coach for 28 years. Even a decade after retiring, Katella athletes would run by his Anaheim home to see him waving seated near the street, David said. “People who did not know him knew of him,” David said. “He’s been athletic all his life,” playing softball and basketball in a variety of leagues. He held track records at Manual Arts High School in his birthplace of Los Angeles as recently as 10 years ago. Bob also attended Los Angeles City College and spent a 40-year career with the phone company. Bob was born May 18, 1920, and competed in at least three world masters meets — 1985 Rome, 1987 Australia and 1997 South Africa, David told some other friends.

A member of the Southern California Striders, he competed against world-record holder Payton Jordan in Payton’s prime. Bob’s rivals included such legends as Jack Greenwood, Alan “Senator” Cranston and Bert “world’s oldest hurdler” Morrow.

Bob served in the Army but missed competing in the Olympics because the Games were canceled in his 20s.

Bob's Hall of Fame bio.

Bob’s bio for Masters Hall of Fame in 2004.

He also ran on the Senior Olympic circuit and won national titles. At 1989 national masters in Eugene, he took silver to the great Burl Gist in the M65 short hurdles. In the M55 long hurdles, his 63.7 still shows up on the
all-time world rankings.

David Hunt says services will be held in late April. (We’ll post details when available.)

Bob is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren, the family says.

The family says graveside services are at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Harbor Lawn Memorial Park, Costa Mesa. A memorial service will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Hilgenfeld Mortuary, Anaheim.

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March 24, 2014

7 Responses

  1. al cestero - March 24, 2014

    heartwarming to read of his life , heartbreaking to read of his alzheimers..may god bless his family and all that knew and loved him..

  2. Andrew Hecker - March 25, 2014

    Back in the 80’s I said if Central Casting were to send out someone to fill the role of “Coach,” Bob Hunt would be who they would send. Now I know its true.

  3. Ken Stone - March 25, 2014

    Corrections and additions made to story at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

  4. Karen Vaughn - March 25, 2014

    Thanks Ken for a very nice article. Bob and Marge urged me into master’s t&f; I had the same cancer as Bob. He worked with me for countless hours, teaching this clumsy nerd-ette how to run and throw implements. I am honored (and healthier!) to have known them both.

  5. Joyce Pease - March 28, 2014

    What a wonderful tribute and article about my amazing Grandpa!!! I know he his jogging around Heaven with my Grandma and they are so happy!!! Rest in Peace and Happy Hurdling!!! Love always, Joyce, Scott, Suzi and Buddy Pease

  6. Jon & Isabel Barkman - March 31, 2014

    Bob & Marge are also fondly remembered as avid fruit growers and long time meeting hosts by the OC CRFG Chapter who generously shared their knowledge and always provided a helping hand.

  7. Terri Adams - April 17, 2014

    Coach Hunt volunteered to coach our little girl scout troop for the Girl Scout Olympics for several years. The girls loved him very much and my daughter went on to Track & Field, Hurdles and Pole Vaulting in High School where they met up again. Thanks Coach Hunt for all you did for the youth of Anaheim. You are missed!

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