Updated: December 26, 2007, 8:34 PM ET
ABILENE, Texas – Oliver Jackson, the former Abilene Christian track and field coach whose athletes won four Olympic gold medals and set 15 world records, died Wednesday. He was 87.
Jackson died at home of natural causes with family members at his side, said Lance Fleming, the Abilene Christian sports information director.
Jackson, a former president of the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association, was head track and field coach at Abilene Christian for 16 years, from 1948-63. His teams won NAIA titles in 1952, 1954 and 1955. In 1964, he coached the national team during its pre-Olympic tour.
“With the passing of Oliver Jackson, we have lost one of our legends,” Abilene Christian president Royce Money said. “He was one of the true giants in track and field coaching circles, and it was his coaching that helped Bobby Morrow achieve immortality at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.”
At Abilene Christian, Jackson coached three U.S. Olympic team members: Morrow, quarter-miler Earl Young and pole vaulter Billy Pemelton.
Morrow, a sprinter, won gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in the 100 and 200 meters and 400 relay. Young won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the 1,600 relay, and Pemelton finish eight in the pole vault in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
A 1959 Sports Illustrated article called Jackson “probably the best relay coach in the United States.”
Jackson was inducted into seven halls of fame, including the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association, the NAIA and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
He was also an accomplished athlete who won the long jump at the Texas high school state championship. He went on play football at Abilene Christian and was named in 1966 to Sports Illustrated’s Silver Anniversary team honoring the best senior college football players from the 1941 season.
Jackson is survived by his wife of 63 years, Biddie, three daughters, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Jackson’s memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene