Oregon Experience: Bill Bowerman

Interactive Timeline

Explore this timeline of Bill Bowerman's life and accomplishments.

Click on "IMAGE »" or "VIDEO »" to reveal an image or video from Bill's wife, Barbara, former students and colleagues.

1845
Bill Bowerman's great-grandfather leads a wagon train across the Oregon Trail. The family settles on the banks of the Tualatin River but eventually migrates to Eastern Oregon in 1867, settling the town of Fossil.
1911
Bill and his twin brother, Thomas are born in Portland. Thomas dies in an accident at 2 years of age.

1923
Bill's mother enrolls him in the Hill Military Academy in Portland, Oregon for one year.
1925
The Bowerman family moves to Medford where Bill attends Medford High School. He graduates in 1929 after excelling in athletics and academics.
1934
Graduates from the University of Oregon with a degree in business. He was admitted to Oregon's School of Medicine but couldn't afford the tuition.
1935
Teaches science and coaches football and track at Portland's Franklin High School for one year; then recruited back to Medford High.
1936
Marries high school sweetheart Barbara Young. Bill and Barbara will have three sons, Jon, Jay and Tom.
1942
Joins the Army's 10th Mountain Division and serves in Italy during World War II.
1945
Discharged from the Army with four Bronze Stars, the Silver Star and a Good Conduct Medal; resumes teaching at Medford High.
1948
Joins the faculty of the University of Oregon as professor and head track coach after legendary coach and mentor Bill Hayward retires in '47.
1949
Starts youth-oriented "All-comers" meets held Saturday mornings at Hayward Field.
1950s
Begins cobbling lighter-weight racing shoes and tests prototypes on his runners. Bill tries to improve his athletes' performance in every way including monitoring their diets, experimenting with recipes for sports drinks and tailoring lighter-weight uniforms.
1962
University of Oregon Track Team wins first NCAA championship followed by wins in 1964, 1965 and 1970.
1962
Travels to New Zealand with his world-record-holding four-mile relay team and is introduced to "jogging" by coach Arthur Lydiard. Back home, with the help of the local media and local cardiologist Waldo Harris, M.D., Bill launches the first running clubs in Eugene.
1964
Bowerman and former student Phil Knight each invest $500 to launch an athletic shoe distribution company called Blue Ribbon Sports.
1967
Writes the book "Jogging" with Waldo Harris, M.D. More than a million copies are sold.
1968
Organizes and manages the High Altitude Training Camp at South Lake Tahoe in preparation for the Mexico City Olympics. The U.S. Track Team proceeds to win more medals at the '68 Olympics than in any other Olympic games.
1972
First U.S. Olympic Trials held in Eugene. Subsequent trials were held in 1976 and 1980. The Olympic Trials will return to Eugene in 2008.

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1972
Blue Ribbon Sports becomes NIKE.
1972
Bowerman elected Head U.S. Track coach at 1972 Munich Olympics.
1972
Retires from the University of Oregon; continues to consult and coach Olympic runners, including Steve Prefontaine, and designs and consults for NIKE.
1981
Inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. Bill Bowerman is considered one of the greatest track coaches in the world. He called himself a teacher.
1981
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and followers purchase land near Fossil for "utopian commune." Bowerman helps lead the fight against them.
1992
Dedication of the Bowerman Building at Hayward Field.
1995
Inducted into the inaugural class of the U.S. Track Coaches Hall of Fame.
1998
Retires from the NIKE Board of Directors.
1999
Bill Bowerman dies in Fossil, Oregon on Christmas Eve.
About Bowerman
Read more about Oregon's famous track coach
Tributes
Writings about Bowerman by those who knew him best
Interactive Timeline
Explore a multimedia timeline of Bowerman's life and career
Writing on Athletics
Read some of Bowerman's many articles on the science of athletics and running
Jogging Slideshow
View a slideshow of pages from Bowerman's booklet

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