NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ed Temple, the trailblazing former Tennessee State and U.S. Olympic women’s track and field coach who died last week, was honored Friday by many of the gold medalists who ran for him.
“He was a man with a heart that was as big as anyone,” Lucinda Williams Adams said at a memorial service on Tennessee State’s campus. “He taught us how to have pride and dignity and to be able to lift each other up. Do not dwell on not having, but dwell on what you are going to have.”
Temple died Sept. 22 at age 89. He coached the women’s track team at Tennessee State, formerly Tennessee A&I, from 1953 to 1994. His Tennessee State Tigerbelles won 13 Olympic gold medals while shattering racial and gender barriers.
He also was head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s track team in 1960 and 1964 and was an assistant coach in 1980.
“You might have an argument about the exact order, but there’s no argument at all that the coach (Temple) deserves to be at the very top level of our heroes of Tennessee,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.
Temple coached Tennessee State to more than 30 national titles while leading 40 athletes to the Olympics.
Among the gold medalists to speak at Temple’s memorial service were Williams, Edith McGuire Duvall, Wyomia Tyus and Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice.
“He came into my life, I had just lost my father, so he has truly, truly been a father figure to me,” Tyus said. “He has given a lot to me and made me who I am today. I am proud to be who I am today, and the only reason I’m that way is because of him. He sacrificed a lot, not just for me, but for all the Tigerbelles, all of us.”
Temple’s daughter, Edwina, said “there are no more batons to pass” and added that “I know when he reached the final finish line, waiting for him were the Tigerbelles that had already finished their final race.”
That list includes Wilma Rudolph, who won three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics.