Sad day for those of us who worked with and admired Timmie. It is a loss for the KU family and for the Lawrence, Kansas area. Wish his family well.
From the KU athletics website:
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Legendary Kansas track & field and cross country coach Bob Timmons, who led his Jayhawk teams to four NCAA titles and 31 conference championships, passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife, Pat; children, Tammie, Beckie, Perkie and Dan, as well as two grandchildren.
Timmons served as the head coach of the Kansas track & field and cross country squad for 22 seasons from 1966-88. "Timmie's" teams captured 13 Big Eight indoor titles, 14 outdoor titles and four cross country league titles. He led the Jayhawks to three NCAA indoor championships in 1966, 1969 and 1970. Timmons' 1970 outdoor team tied for the national championship with Oregon, Brigham Young and Drake to give him four titles in five years. To this day, Timmons' four NCAA Championships are the most among any head coach in Kansas Athletics' history.
"The Kansas Track & Field family has lost a legendary figure in our history," said current KU track & field head coach Stanley Redwine. "Coach Timmons led KU to unprecedented success during his time here and should be remembered, not only as a great coach, but as a great mentor as well. He continuously strived to set a standard of excellence that we fully recognize to this day. His contributions of our home cross country course of Rim Rock Farm also shows what a truly dedicated Jayhawk he was. Our thoughts are with Pat, their children and the rest of the Timmons family during this difficult time."
"KU has lost a true treasure," said Kansas Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger. "Coach Timmons was one of the all-time greats. His legacy, though, does not end with championships and medals. His real legacy is how much he cared about his student-athletes and the University of Kansas."
Born in Joplin, Missouri, Timmons grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas, where he attended Pittsburg High School. He joined the Marines in 1943 and spent a year deployed in the South Pacific during WWII. Upon returning to the states Timmons turned his attention to coaching.
He began his career in track & field with the Jayhawks as a student manager and assistant coach starting in 1946 until he graduated in 1950. He worked and learned under another Kansas track & field coaching legend, Bill Easton, during his time as an undergrad, which ignited his love for coaching and mentoring young athletes.
He spent eight years as a high school track, swimming and football coach, beginning his career at Caldwell High School in 1950 and also spending time at Emporia High School, Wichita West High School and Wichita East High School before returning to his alma mater in 1965. Timmons helped the Wichita East swimming program to prominence, enjoying eight-straight undefeated years in all competitions and boasting 52 individual state champions and seven state swimming titles. His high school teams also ran to four cross country crowns and six state track championships.
Timmons took over the Kansas program for the future Hall of Famer, Easton, in 1966 and continued to take the Jayhawk program to new heights over the next 22 years. In addition to all the team's success, he oversaw the coaching and development of seven Olympians, 16 world record holders, 77 NCAA All-Americans and 24 NCAA Champions. Included on his highly impressive résumé, was being named the U.S. Track & Field Coach Association (USTFA) Coach of the Year in 1975 as well as being tabbed as the District V Coach of the Year in 11 of his 22 seasons at KU.
Timmons' coaching career also included teaching one of the world's best track athletes in Jim Ryun. Recruited to Kansas by Timmons, his former high school coach, Ryun emerged as one of the most iconic track athletes in American history. In 1964, at the age of 17, Ryun became the first high schooler to run a sub-four-minute mile. In fact, his high school mile mark of 3:55.3 stood for 31 years. With Timmons leading the way in Lawrence, Ryun put together a spectacular stint at KU from 1965 to 1969, he owned world records in the 880 yards, 1,500 meters and mile run and added an additional four American records during his time under Timmons. Ryun was a five-time NCAA champion and, to this day, still holds 13 Jayhawk school records.
He was also the main force behind the creation of one of the top cross country courses in the nation, the home of Kansas Cross Country, Rim Rock Farm. Timmons acquired the land to the north of Lawrence in the early 1970s and quickly turned it into the main home for his cross country squads by 1974. Even after his time at KU came to an end, Timmons remained the caretaker at Rim Rock Farm until he gifted it to the University in 2004. Rim Rock has been the host site for some of the top meets in the nation and the region as it hosted the 1998 NCAA DI and DII Cross Country Championships, 2006 and 2014 Big Championships, numerous Kansas State High School Championships, as well as the upcoming NCAA Midwest Regional Championships in November.
Timmons handed off the reins of the KU track program in 1988, but continued to maintain his close ties to the team. He remained a loyal supporter at Jayhawk home meets and continued to make appearances at the Kansas Relays for many years after his retirement.
In 2011, Timmons became the 11th Jayhawk to be inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame. Along with the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, Timmons is also a member of the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, the Kansas Relays Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas High School Activities Association Hall of Fame and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches of America (USTFCCCA) Hall of Fame.
My prayers & thoughts to the Timmons family ... a gentleman and great coach!
Another person's thoughts on Coach Timmons,
Among his most prominent pupils: Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served as a team manager for Timmons during his high school days at Wichita East.
In 2010, when Gates was honored as the Kansan of the Year, he recalled the lessons he learned from Timmons.
“No amount of screaming was as effective a motivator as Bob Timmons putting his arm around a student’s shoulder and quietly saying, ‘I’m disappointed you didn’t give your best effort, your all,’” Gates said.
“I carry Bob Timmons’ life lessons in leadership, integrity, discipline, motivating people and treating all of them respectfully to work with me every day.”
Sad news. I had the honor to train with him in my high school days.
Bob Timmons was a most awesome coach, as well as a kind and generous person. RIP.
Former University of Kansas track and field head coach Bob Timmons died Tuesday night at age 91. Timmons, known as Timmie, coached at KU for more than two decades and his most famous athlete was mile world record holder Jim Ryun. Timmon's first star athlete was Archie San Romani, Jr. who was the first high school boy under 4:10 in the mile. Later, at Wichita East High School, Timmons coached Ryun, who became the first high school boy to break 4 minutes in the mile and made the 1964 Olympic Team.
Timmons left Wichita East in 1964 to become an assistant coach at Kansas and became head coach in 1965. Timmon's teams at Kansas won four NCAA titles. Besides coaching, Timmie and his runners built Rim Rock Farm, a tremendous cross country course that hosted the 1998 NCAA Championships. Timmons later donated the course to the university.
Not mentioned here at all is the HUGE impact Timmons had on the KU relays. He singlehandedly kept that meet afloat for 25 years with his passion and determination - all while coaching the KU teams. I was privileged to be one of the relays officials in those years and I can tell you no one worked harder or loved the KU relays more than Bob Timmons. It was never the same after he left. RIP Coach.
Legend for the ages.
Coming on the heels of the death of Minnesota's Roy Griak, the NCAA Track Coaches fraternity has lost another iconic figure. How sad but so great to honor such a deserving coach at the time of his passing.
Bob Timmons was in my family living room recruiting me as a HS Junior since he spoke at our season ending cross country team banquet. Even though I did not elect to attend KU, he was always a true gentleman and always had a kind word for me as a fellow Midwesterner whenever we would see each other later at Nat'l Championship meets. He was inducted into the National T & F Hall of Fame with me back in 2011 but he was too sick to attend even then (Alzeimers?)and his daughter accepted the award on his behalf. Interesting that he was a track manager and volunteer asst. coach at KU when he was a student following WWII and not an athlete. Former US Secry of Defense Robert Gates' quote about life lessons he learned from working with Timmons as a track team manager himself at Wichita East HS.... is a legacy that any coach could only hope and dream to receive in an obituary.
That said, so many top US distance runners coming out of HS in the late 60's and 70's went to KU hoping that Timmons could recreate some of that special magic with them like he did for Jim Ryun... but most of them could not handle the physically demanding workload that Ryun did and many of them broke down and either left KU or did not reach the heights in the sport that had been projected for them. Ryun was very physically mature and strong in both HS and college... and could handle both strength and speed work in such volume that it was like he was already in his mid-20's... instead of just 18-20 years old.
I often wondered why Coach Timmons could not adjust his basic training program down just a bit for athletes that were not as much a "horse" as Ryun was. His legacy as a coach would have been even greater if he had been able to adjust his training program to slightly more moderate levels for lesser physical beings. Jim Ryun was a physical anomaly and could handle training/racing stress like very few young men could.
But, I loved the fact that he was such an advocate for student-athletes' rights even back in the '70's! Bravo for Coach Timmons and RIP! You will not be forgotten by those you touched in life and sports.
Echoing what Craig posted. "Timmie" was a great coach and a true gentleman in the mode of his contemporary, Roy Griak, who also just recently passed. I was privileged to know Bob for 47 years and always respected him not only for his coaching acumen but also because of his abiding concern for the well-being of his athletes, both on and off the track or course. There are not many coaches these days like Roy or "Timmie." They will be missed and long remembered.