Tributes pour in for Monte Upshaw, Joy’s dad and track inspiration

Monte Upshaw was a star at Cal after his HS LJ record. He died last week at 81.

Joy Upshaw is a Masters Hall of Famer in large part because of her dad’s example and inspiration, not to mention his genes. Monte Upshaw in 1954 broke Jesse Owens’ high school long jump record. Joy, and her younger sister, Grace, went on to snap other long jump records in masters and college ranks. Grace was a two-time Olympian. So when Monte Upshaw died last week at 81, Joy’s Facebook feed was filled with tributes. Joy wrote: “Thank you Daddio for your love & support. ❤️ You taught us to be generous, thankful, humble and friendly. So many memories of family trips, track meets, father/daughter dances, CAL games, lunch dates, Sinatra singing, reservoir runs, etc. You have always been a great example for us all… a terrific father, grandfather, friend, athlete & positive person! You have left a legacy🌟❤️81 years of Wonderful Life🎼✨”

A recent profile noted: “In 1954, as a senior at Piedmont High, he broke Jesse Owens’ 21-year-old national high school record with a leap of 25 feet, 41/2 inches. Just 18 years old, he was ranked No. 5 in the world that season.”

Monte’s University of California bio said:

Monte Upshaw was a track & field standout for the Bears from 1954-58 … as a senior, he set a world and American record in the sprint medley relay (3:18.8), along with Jack Yerman, Willie White and Don Bowden … he also established a national collegiate freshman record in the sprint relay (3:20.9) in 1955, with teammates Leamon King, John Merchant and Bowden … Upshaw, who was inducted into the Piedmont Hall of Fame in January 2004, remained close to the Cal track program following the completion of his career … one of his daughters, Joy, served as an assistant track coach at Cal, while another daughter, Grace, lettered in track at Cal from 1995-97 and was a four-time U.S. champion and a 2004 Olympian in the long jump.

Join me in wishing Joy, our USATF stalwart, strength and focus as she deals with this incredible loss.

A newspaper cartoonist summarized Monte’s exploits in the mid-1950s.

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July 30, 2017

10 Responses

  1. Steve Wennerstrom - July 31, 2017

    I had an opportunity to meet Joy a few years back at a masters meet at Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. I found her to be friendly, engaging and an all around class act. It was an enjoyable 20 minute conversation and other than having a mutual friend who had competed in age group T&F she didn’t know me from the man in the moon. It was a Joy to chat with her….. a pretty terrific lady indeed. Very sorry to hear of her loss.

  2. Derek Pye - July 31, 2017

    Thank you Joy for being a great example of a great example. Sending you and your family prayers, strength, and love during this time. God bless you.

  3. Jeff Davison - July 31, 2017

    Prayers to family and friends.

  4. Milan Tiff - July 31, 2017

    I never met Monte Upshaw. But often times heard his name mentioned, growing up on the playgrounds of Cleveland, Ohio. He was a legend.

  5. Robert Thomas - August 1, 2017

    Joy I am sorry to hear of the passing of your father. I remember when he came to watch you at the Masters World championships, I think it was in Lahti, Finland and he stated how much fun he was having watching the masters athletes compete. You could tell he was a true fan of the sport at all levels. Prayers to you and your family.

  6. Becky Connolly - August 2, 2017

    So sorry to hear about the passing of your father Joy. Joy, you are a wonderful legacy and emblematic of his inspiration! Sending very warm thoughts.

  7. Mary Harada - August 2, 2017

    My sympathy to Joy – losing a parent – no matter at what age – is hard. You have a treasure chest of great memories – hang on to them.

  8. Gerald - August 2, 2017

    Joy, I never met you, but saw you run many times in my Masters meets for the last 8 years. You always looked to be a nice, gracious and inspiring woman. I look for people with goals and a great work ethic. Your a great example for that. You had wonderful years with your father, I never did. Good luck in what ever you do.

  9. Ken Stone - August 11, 2017

    Cal Bears website notes Sept.10 celebration of life:

  10. Brian Conley - September 10, 2017

    Hey Joy,
    Your father lived a great life and left behind an awesome legacy.
    Much love,

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