Herb Douglas, the oldest living U.S. Olympic medalist who captured the bronze medal in the long jump at the 1948 summer games in London, died on Saturday, the University of Pittsburgh announced. He was 101
Univeristy chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced Douglas’ passing in a statement on Monday.
“In every role that he filled, as an aspiring athlete from Hazelwood, as a student-athlete and University trustee and as an esteemed businessman, Olympian and community leader, Herb Douglas excelled,” Gallagher said.
“He was both a champion himself and a champion of others, never hesitating to open doors of opportunity and help people pursue their own success. Unsurprisingly, Herb left an indelible mark on this world, while leaving an incomprehensible hole in the hearts of so many. I am proud to have called him my friend, and Karen and I will be keeping his family and circle of loved ones close in thought as we begin to honor his remarkable life and legacy.”
Born in the Pittsburgh area on March 9, 1922, Douglas first attended Xavier University in New Orleans before returning home where he eventually enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in 1945.
He became the first African American to play football for the Panthers, but was more widely known as a star athlete on the track team.
Douglas won four intercollegiate championships in the long jump and another in the 100-yard dash at Pitt and three AAU titles in the long jump. He earned a spot on the 1948 U.S. Olympic team after finishing runner-up to Willie Steele at the Olympic trials.
In London, he would go on to win bronze in the long jump with a leap of 24-feet-9 inches.
He was eventually inducted into the inaugural Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2018.
“Herb Douglas led a remarkable life that inspired people the world over. Whether it was as an Olympic medalist, accomplished business executive or personal mentor, Herb impacted and was loved by so many. That is certainly the case at the University of Pittsburgh, where his life and legacy are truly enduring,” Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement.
“His incredible intellect and determination were only surpassed by his personal kindness. Pitt Athletics is forever indebted to his passion and support. It is so fitting that our future indoor track will be named in Herb’s honor, ensuring his name and legacy live on to inspire future Pitt student-athletes.”
Douglas is survived by his wife, Minerva Douglas, daughter, and four grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.