TSR's Profiles of Greatness - Barney Gedwillas

By: Mike Mcmillion

Barney Gedwillas Biography


Barney Gedwillas (born July 10, 1913) was a native of Thomas, a former coal town in Tucker County, West Virginia. He was a former track star and four-year letterman for the West Virginia Mountaineer track team from 1932-36.

Gedwillas was considered WVU’s best distance runner before World War II, and was one of the premier runners in the nation during the 1930s. As a senior, he participated against Norman Bright, Louis Zamperini (from the true story/movie, Unbroken) and Tom Deckard in the 5000-meter race at the 1936 Randall's Island Olympic trials, New York, NY. Gedwillas ran with a blister, he finished fourth, just one spot away from a berth in the Berlin Olympics. President Franklin Roosevelt was in attendance at the trials.

He also served as team captain, as a senior, while setting West Virginia University school records in the mile (4:24.6) and two-mile (9:37.2) that stood for 32 years.

He was an electrical engineer, where he worked on such projects as the electronic systems on the Flying Wing. He also, in early life, traveled to Alaska where he worked in the gold mines and other business ventures with his brother-in-law and other friends.

On October 5th, 2002, he was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame with Willie Akers (basketball), Eddie Beach (basketball), James Jett (track and field/football) and Rosemary Kosiorek.

Barney Gedwillas was 91 years old when he passed away. He won his last race on Friday, March 18, 2005.

He was the last member of his immediate family. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Ann Fleming Gedwillas; and brother, Frank.


Barney Gedwillas biography compiled Mike McMillion



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