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Where Are They Now? - Gil Cruter

Discussion in 'University of Colorado News and Olympic Sports' started by cmgoods, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. cmgoods

    cmgoods Olympic Sports Mod Club Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I figured occasionally I would do a Where Are They Now?/Biography on different olympic sports athletes from the Buffaloes

    index2.jpg Gilbert Cruter was born on February 16, 1915 in Trinidad, Colo., to Ervin Cruter and Mary Askew. The youngest of five boys and a girl, Gilbert moved to Denver with his mother when he was six years old. He attended Whittier Elementary, Lake Junior High and West High School. He attended Shorter A.M.E. church, and it was in Sunday school that he first met Mary Margueritte Martin. They often went out for ice cream after church services, and dated for several years before eloping on December 24, 1939.

    Gilbert was a record-breaking athlete; he excelled in track and field. In high school, he set the Denver prep high jump record of 6’4”. Gilbert later attended the University of Colorado where he set the world high jump record in 1936 and again in 1938. He beat the Olympic record of 6’8” and then cleared 6’10”, securing another high jump world record. His skill and unorthodox style of “barrel rolling” over the bar attracted international attention. Gilbert was invited to participate as a member of the US Track and Field Team and toured several European countries in 1936, 1937 and 1938. He was also selected as a US Olympic team alternate for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

    Gilbert took the discrimination that existed at that particular time in stride. About his experiences on the track team in college, Gilbert noted, “When Frank Potts would take us to the Kansas Relays, the team would stay at a hotel while I was placed with a private family because blacks were not allowed to stay in the hotels.”

    Upon graduating from the University of Colorado in 1939 with a B.S. in physical education and a minor in science, he went to work for Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. He served as director of the University’s Department of Health and Physical Education and as the school’s track coach where he lead his team to conference championships. In 1943, Gilbert was drafted into the Army Air Corps during WW II and served in St. Louis, MO; Augusta, GA; and Tampa, FL until he was honorably discharged in Nov. 1945. He returned to Southern University until June 1946. He later moved back to Denver, CO to accept a position as an elementary physical education teacher with the Denver Public Schools and taught the 4th, 5th and 6th grades at Whittier Elementary. He was the first black male teacher in the Denver Public Schools system and he remained there for 14 years. “Accepting this assignment made me the first black male teacher in the Denver Public School system. When I left Whittier to take an assignment at Manual High school, I became the first black to be assigned at the secondary level. Here I remained until 1960 as a teacher and track coach working under adversity because of attitudes and limited facilities.”

    While his days were spent at Whittier elementary, his evenings were devoted to running The Denver Inquirer, a newspaper he and Mary founded to bring news to the Black community in Denver. Oh, and he and Mary also had two kids; his first daughter, Gail, born on Jan. 6, 1946, and Karen born on December 25, 1948.
    index3.jpg While teaching at Manual High School, the US State Department asked him to serve as a goodwill ambassador to West Africa to work with athletes. He worked in West Africa through April 1956: “My first African experience was from 1955-56. It was during this period that I became acquainted with many of the future political leaders in Ghana...I developed a lasting friendship with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (the eventual president of the country). Dr. Nkrumah [later] invited me back to Ghana. The purpose of the invitation was to develop a youth program with emphasis on athletics that would provide the base for building a self image of youthful patriotism within Ghana.”

    In 1961, he accepted a position with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as the cultural affairs attaché in Monrovia, Liberia and as Public Affairs Console in Nigeria. “I believe that an understanding of one another cultures is a leavening agent for appreciation and communication. The cultural program proved to be a success and as a result of my work, I was made an honorary chief in the Kpelle tribe with full ceremonial robes of country cloth, and given a chieftain title—Chief Kolle Palomo--‘a giant with culture’”

    Gilbert was named Public Affairs attaché in Enugu, Nigeria where he developed a communications system which provided a tape recorded message of local and international news in English and the indigenous tribal languages. “It was a question of creativity, of using your imagination. You see what the situation is and what you can do to change it.”

    Upon returning to the U.S. in the fall of 1964, he accepted the position of coordinator and later Executive Director of the Office of School Community Relations in DPS. In May 1968, the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools mandated integration: “The public clamors for a voice in decision making regarding the education of their children and the social tensions resulting from de-segregation. As Director of the office of School Community Relations I continued to have the responsibility for the design, development and implementation of a human relations program for the integration of the school district.”

    In 1982, Gilbert was named Executive Director of the Department of Community Schools, where he was responsible for the development and coordination of all community school programs in Denver Public Schools. He held this position until he retired.

    During his lifetime, Gilbert received numerous honors and awards including the University of Colorado Norlin Award and Tau Sigma Teacher of the Year. He was honored by Norwest Bank as an African American Living Legend and he was inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame and the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame. During the induction ceremony for the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame, Gilbert remarked, “Those of us who have been successful in athletics and in our careers need to reach back and mentor youth so that they too can work towards achieving their potential.”

    In recent years, Gilbert continued to remain active in the Denver community, traveling with Mary, golfing with friends, and spending time with his three grandchildren.

    Gilbert passed on Monday, July 25, 2005. He was 90 years old. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary, his daughters Gail, and Karen McGee, adopted son Leon, his grandchildren, Karesha, Martin and Kabrielle, his brother and sister in law Dr. Harry Martin and Roberta Martin, sister in law Nita Martin, niece and great-nephew Barbara Cruter and Anwar Cruter, great-niece Diane Wormley and a huge extended family along with numerous friends, fraternity brothers, CU alumni, former students and colleagues, golfing buddies and neighbors.
    “I always enjoyed the competition,” Cruter explained. “That’s why I continued. I never gave up. But I still wonder what I could have done in today’s system.”

    From cubuffs.com and coloradosports.org

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