LUBBOCK, Texas – Gerald "Corky" Oglesby, the beloved former Texas Tech track and field coach and longtime Red Raider Club staffer, passed away Sunday following a battle with cancer. He was 81.
For over 40 years, Oglesby's name was synonymous with Texas Tech Athletics as he was an assistant men's basketball coach under both Bob Bass and Gerald Myers before spending 20 years as the head men's track and field coach. He then transitioned to a special projects coordinator in the Red Raider Club, a position he remained active in up until his passing.
"Corky Oglesby is a legend," Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said. "He in so many ways demonstrated what being a Red Raider is all about. It's a special legacy that Corky has left behind – one we will always remember and always be with this athletics department and in this community. He was a cherished individual that will be deeply, deeply missed by all of us."
Doctors discovered cancer in Oglesby this past summer soon after the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, one of his favorite events each year. The diagnosis didn't crush his spirits, though, as Oglesby was still a regular at Texas Tech events in the months to come, including recent Red Raider football and basketball games.
Oglesby was adamant that those around him not mourn for him. In fact, he declared he did not want a funeral when he passed. Instead, he preferred a party with friends and family, so he could hear the nice tributes that would be said.
A party it was.
Friends and family of Oglesby traveled to Lubbock from across the country in early August to tell stories of the man many simply knew as "Corky." Former players, colleagues and even some of the coaches Oglesby faced recalled their favorite Corky stories during the three-plus hour party.
Those who knew him likely had a good Corky story. There were plenty that night, ranging from his early years in Lubbock to his recruitment of certain former players to even his favorite hole-in-the wall restaurants throughout the states of Texas and Oklahoma.
Towards the end of the ceremony, Texas Tech track and field coach Wes Kittley eloquently described his longtime friend. He was a Texas Tech "icon," Kittley said to the lines of tables on the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum floor.
"We lost a treasure today," Kittley said following Oglesby's passing. "He was a blessing for me to have him in my life. I can't tell you what he's meant to me over the years. I'll definitely miss him. He was Mr. Texas Tech to me. He gave his life to Texas Tech and touched hundreds if not thousands of lives along the way. He truly loved Texas Tech and it showed."
Many of the friendships Oglesby developed were fostered soon after his move to Lubbock on April 1, 1969. Oglesby was hired that day to be the new assistant men's basketball coach under Bass, a position he'd flourish in as he recruited several of the Red Raiders' top players for both Bass and later Myers.
During his time on the basketball staff, the Red Raiders boasted six-consecutive winning seasons and a 98-57 overall record, which included a 58-26 mark in Southwest Conference play. His tenure was highlighted by a Southwest Conference regular-season championship during the 1972-73 season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
"Corky was just a really good guy," said Myers, who retained Oglesby on his staff when he took over for Bass in 1971 and then rehired him to the Red Raider Club in 1997. "We knew each other for 48 years, and he was always very close and dear to me. Corky was a very loyal and smart guy. He had a great sense of humor. I don't think he ever forgot a name once he met someone. We'll miss him a lot, but he'll always have a special place in our memory."
Oglesby's love belonged on the track, however, as he served 20 years (1975-95) as head coach of the Red Raiders, the longest tenure for a track coach in school history. His list of successful athletes included 32 All-Americans, 11 SWC outdoor champions and seven SWC indoor individual champions. To this date, Oglesby coached 12 individuals that still own Tech all-time records, including nine outdoor track and field school records.
Oglesby remained active in the sport for the next 20 years as well, serving as a meet official for several of the top events throughout the country each year. He was passionate about the sport, regularly attending the NCAA Championships as well as several Olympics.
In all, Oglesby spent nearly 50 years serving in some capacity within Texas Tech Athletics. For his years of service and dedication, Oglesby was inducted in 2014 to the Texas Tech Hall of Honor, which is reserved for those who make outstanding contributions to Texas Tech Athletics.
"The Red Raider family has lost one of our most beloved members," Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. "Corky was a great man, who made a difference in the lives of many individuals and Texas Tech University and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Texas Tech will honor Oglesby's legacy again in January when the track and field program hosts the Corky Classic, which will be the first event hosted in the newly-opened Sports Performance Center. Tech will bring in the nation's elite programs such as Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and LSU on Jan. 13 for what Kittley says will become an annual event to honor Oglesby's memory.
"It's hard for me to imagine having a track meet without Corky there by my side," Kittley said. "We went everywhere together. We went to the Olympics together and traveled the world for meets. Every championship I won, Corky was there. He was so selfless, and that's maybe what I'll remember best about him. Texas Tech really lost an icon today."