Ted Ensslin dies at 90; was pioneering masters meet organizer

Ted (at the lectern) was the pride of Porterville.

Ted Ensslin, a pioneer masters athlete and meet organizer based in the Central California town of Porterville, died Nov. 30 in Gilbert, Arizona. He was 90 and much-honored by his hometown. My masters track friend Roger Drummond wrote me: “Ted competed in multi events in masters meets for many years. He was instrumental in organizing the Golden State Masters meets in Porterville during the 1970s. I believe he was mentioned in the book ‘The History of Masters Track.’ [Correct, see below]. I remember him always talking about masters track to athletes when I was in high school and at Porterville College. Mr. Ensslin, along with Bob Higginbotham and Orville Gillette, were the main inspirations for me to get involved in masters track.”

Len Olson’s “Masters Track & Field: A History” notes Ted’s place in sport.

Ted was in his town’s Wall of Fame, inducted in 2015.

Here’s his obituary in the Porterville Recorder:

Theodore (Ted) Gustav Ensslin Jr. was born June 24, 1927 in Porterville, California to Theodore and Pearl Ensslin. He passed away peacefully in Gilbert, Arizona on November 30, 2017.

Ted was a lifelong resident of Porterville. He attended Alta Vista School and Porterville High School, graduating in 1945. He excelled in many sports and was also student body president.

After graduating from high school, Ted enlisted in the Navy, then attended Porterville College and the University of Nevada/Reno. He played football and received All American honors.

Ted married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy Elizabeth Campbell, on August 7, 1947. They were married 68 years. Ted taught high school at Battle Mountain, Nevada and coached the state championship football team. He and Dorothy returned to Porterville where Ted went to work managing a cotton gin.

Ted enjoyed a career with New York Life for over 60 years and became a top producing agent. Ted was active in his community and served on numerous committees and service organizations. He loved the city of Porterville and those who lived here.

He was the inaugural president of the Porterville Exchange Club in 1959 and remained an active member until his death at age 90. He served on the Porterville City Council and as Mayor of Porterville 3 times. He also remained involved as a Porterville College Alumni. Ted enjoyed speaking publicly and willingly donated his time to address community and state organizations.

Ted was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, serving in many capacities.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy, of 68 years, his son, David, and daughter, Lisa Rehfeld. He is survived by 4 children, Marti Call (Ernest) of Mexico, Steven (Karen) of Washington, Jeri Gilstrap (Steven) of Arizona, and Mia Hatch (Brent) of Utah.

He is also survived by 1 brother, James of Woodland, CA. He is blessed with 27 grandchildren, 42 great grandchildren, and 3 great great grandchildren. He touched many lives and will be missed by all who knew him. Services will be Monday, December 11, 2017 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 837 East Morton, Porterville at 10:00 a.m.

Here’s how the Recorder reported his Wall of Fame moment:

Ensslin was nominated by Council Member Brian Ward and introduced by Council Member Monte Reyes.

Born in Porterville in 1927, Ensslin attended local schools before attending the University of Nevada, Reno; American College and several other schools to earn his master and doctorate degrees. He married Dorothy Campbell and spent his time traveling the world, but returned to the area and established his business as an agent for the New York Life Insurance Company.

He served on the Porterville City Council for 10 years, was chairman and co-chairman of the committee that oversees relations with Porterville two sister cities — La Barca, Mexico and Mikkabi, Japan. He was also selected as the California Registration Chairman and served on the California Independence Day Committee and Attorney’s Committee in Sacramento.

Ensslin is a lifetime member and founding president of the Porterville Exchange Club, a member of a professional speakers club and an inspirational speaker for schools and organizations all over the country. He was also knighted in New York City for noble deeds.

“Were not here for the ego,” Ensslin said. “Material things take you away from other things.”

Ensslin said the year 1927 was a good year. Besides being the year he was born, it was the year Porterville became a charter city and the year Porterville College graduated its first class.

Our condolences to his family and friends. Quite a life.

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December 11, 2017

2 Responses

  1. Peter L. Taylor - December 12, 2017

    Ken, thanks for posting this notice about Ted, a truly fine gentleman who contributed a great deal to our sport.

    As for the author of the book cited above, I believe that “Al Olson” had nothing to do with the publication. Instead, I think that Len Olson, a thrower, should be given the credit.

  2. Ken Stone - December 12, 2017

    Good catch on Len, Pete. I was thinking of another Olson connected to masters track.

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