Gilbert Lothair Dodds was born on June 23, 1918 in Norcatur, Kansas to Reverend James Gilbert Dodds and his wife, Edna F. Michel Dodds. The family moved frequently because of church assignments and soon Reverend Dodds accepted the pastorate of the Falls City, Nebraska Brethren Church. This is where Gil’s love of running truly blossomed. He had many jobs as a young man... a paper route and trapping among them. He used to run between traps to save time. Soon he met Lloyd Hahn, a former Olympic runner, whom he asked to coach him.
Hahn saw promise in the boy and so a lifetime association was formed and Gil began to make great progress. He specialized in the mile and half mile events and never lost a race in high school. In 1935 he entered two races in Peru, Nebraska where he set state records, winning the mile in 4:49.6 and the half mile in 2:09.6. He was the state champion in the mile in 1935, 1936 and 1937.
Gil wanted to attend the University of Nebraska but his father, a graduate of Ashland College, convinced him that he should start his path to the ministry at Ashland, which rarely had more than 300 students at that time and no track or track team, let alone a coach. So Gil asked Lloyd Hahn if he would coach him by mail. Gil got a job in a downtown hotel in Ashland and the rest of the family resided in Wayne County, where his father was now the pastor of the Smithville Brethren Church. Soon a running team was formed at the college and Gil continued to improve. He won the Men’s Cross Country Championship in 1940 in E. Lansing MI. He set a new American record for the mile (4:06.5) in Boston. Gil eventually lowered the world record for the indoor mile to 4:06.4 and in 1943 was awarded the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the U.S. He traveled the world giving talks on running and giving Christian witness. He was an outstanding motivational speaker. He probably deserves the title: “the father of distance running at Ashland University.”
Gil had met the love of his life in Falls City-Irma Louise Seeger, and they married in Marion County, Indiana on December 30, 1937. They had four children: Jack, Michael, Jann, and Joel. Gil died of a brain tumor on February 3, 1977 in Saint Charles, Illinois and is buried in Chapel Hill Gardens Cemetery, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.
Name: Dodds, Gilbert L. (Gil) Education:
Sept. 1933 - June 1937 - Nebraska Secondary School, Falls City, NE Sept. 1937 -June 1941 - A.B. Degree -Ashland College
Feb. 1942 - Feb. 1942- June 1945 - B.D. Degree -Gordon Seminary, Boston, MA
Sept. 1945- June 1947- MA. In Christian Education, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Sept. 1951- June 1954- MA. In Education plus, Guidance and P.E., Northwestern, Evanston, IL
June to August 1945 -Graduate work in Education, Harvard University June 1959-April 1962-Graduate work, Northwestern University
July to August 1963 - Guidance and Counseling Institute, Michigan State University, East Lansing
Teaching and Professional Experience
Sept. 1945 -August 1959 - Head Track and Cross-Country Coach, P.E. Instructor in the P.E. Dept., Wheaton, IL
Sept. 1959-August 1964- Full time Counselor at Naperville Community High School and
Sept. 1964 - until ???? - Registrar, Huntington College, Huntington, IN
Nominated by Bill Schirmer