Published Monday, January 21, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:39 am
track and field
George Anderson was ‘pillar of community’

A roster of the best United States sprinters from the 1960s would be incomplete without the name George Anderson.

“Bullet” Bob Hayes, Jim Hines, Charlie Greene, Ronnie Ray Smith, John Carlos — all top sprinters and all Anderson’s peers in a golden era of speed nearly a half-century ago.

Anderson, who was 70 when he died Jan. 15, was ranked No. 1 in the world as a college junior in the 100-yard dash. He competed internationally for the U.S. in 1965, winning two of three 100-yard races in duals against the Soviet Union, Poland and West Germany.

The native of Baton Rouge, La., never played high school or college football, but the sport is the reason Anderson ended up living in Omaha.

Invited to the Kansas City Chiefs training camp in 1967, the American Football League team sent Anderson for seasoning with the semipro Omaha Mustangs. He had a seven-year career with the Mustangs.

Anderson’s legacy includes an involvement in youth sports, particularly track and field coaching, that continued until his death.

He was a longtime high school track and field assistant coach at Omaha North, and this season he was an assistant freshman boys basketball coach for the Vikings.

“If you went to North you knew him, and if you were involved in track you had to know him,” said Dave Felici, the unit director of the North Omaha Boys and Girls Club. “He single-handedly built our track program.”

Anderson founded the club’s track and field program in 1999 after coaching other club teams. A former pupil is Washington Redskins tight end and former Husker Niles Paul.

“He bled for the Boys and Girls Club,” Felici said. “G.A. was the most humble guy. He didn’t want money for anything. His heart was with the kids, the volunteers and the staff of the Boys and Girls Club.”

Abdul Muhammad, who played wingback for Nebraska from 1991 to ’94 and has been the club’s sports and fitness program director for the past three years, worked closely with Anderson.

“George was the guy who got me involved in the community with the kids,” Muhammad said. “George was a pillar of the community.”

Muhammad said the Jaguars’ uniforms always will have “GA” stitched on them. Felici said it’s a fitting tribute for a man who was concerned with how kids did beyond athletics.

“He was always talking to the kids, telling them to get their homework done and work to get good grades,” Felici said. “If they didn’t, they wouldn’t run.

“G.A. was tough with the kids, but he also wasn’t afraid to open his heart and love them.”

Anderson went to Southern University in Baton Rouge. He was a 10-time NAIA All-American in four events, tied the world record in winning the 60-yard dash at the 1965 NAIA indoor meet in Kansas City, Mo., and won NAIA outdoor titles in the 100 in 1965 and ’66.

In 1965, Anderson was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100, an event he won that summer at the AAU national championships in 9.3 seconds. A year later, “Log” anchored the Jaguars’ 440-yard relay team to a world-record time of 39.6 seconds at the California Relays and ran his fastest 100 of 9.2.

He worked in Omaha as an employment specialist with the Eastern Nebraska Office of Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

His survivors include his wife, Ola, and sons Marcus, George III and Eric.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Salem Baptist Church, 3131 Lake St. After interment, a repass will be held at North High’s Viking Center.

Contact the writer:

402-618-4113, steven.beideck@reagan.com, twitter.com/stevebeideck

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