FULLERTON, Calif. - A track & field coaching legend, Jim Bush passed on at his home in Culver City on Monday, July 10th. He was 90 years old.
In the last 65 years, no coach has had a greater impact on shaping the sport of track & field in Southern California than Jim Bush.
Upon high school graduation, in 1944 Jim entered the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He completed his military degree in 1946 and enrolled at Bakersfield Community College. After receiving his AA degree in 1948, Jim attended the University of California, at Berkeley, on a track scholarship and received in B.A. degree in 1951.
Unfortunately, Jim's collegiate track career was marred by a series of hamstring injuries. Determined to become a better coach than he ever had, Jim began his coaching career in 1952 as an assistant at Berkeley High School. That summer he was hired as head boys track coach at Fullerton High School where he led his team to the league title in his first season and for the next seven years thereafter.
In 1959 Jim was named the head coach at Fullerton Junior College where he coached cross country and track and field. In his 2nd full season in 1961, Jim assembled what many consider to be the greatest community college track team of all-time. His team won both the Southern California and State Championships. Along the way, his athletes set 53 school, conference, and state record, as well as 7 national junior college records. Three of his athletes broke the national JC record in the half mile and two broke the national record in the mile.
Occidental College was the next to call for Bush's services where he coached from the fall of 1961 to 1964.
In the fall of 1964 Jim became the head coach of the UCLA. From 1966-1984, Jim's Bruin teams won 13 of 19 UCS dual meets, seven PAC 10 Conference titles, and 5 NCAA Championships.
After leaving UCLA in 1984, Bush became a speed & strength consultant for the Los Angeles Raiders (worked with Marcus Allen), Dodgers, Lakers and Clippers. For his efforts, Bush was given a Super Bowl Championship (1984 Raiders) and also a World Series Championship ring (1988 Dodgers).
The college ranks were his true love, and Bush soon came out of retirement in 1991. This time he ventured across town becoming the head coach of the USC track program until his final retirement in 1994.
Bush coached 30 Olympians during his coaching career. He was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1987 and was enshrined into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. Inducted into the Fullerton College Hal of Fame in 2005, Bush is also a Hall of Fame member at Fullerton High School, Kern County, Bakersfield College, Occidental College and UCLA.
Bush is survived by his wife (Francoise), his children (Don Bush, Jean Richmond, Gary Ruggieri and Patrick Ruggier), and 21 grand/great children (too many to list).
Services are pending.
(Courtesy of Phillip Thurman, Fullerton College Athletics)