Edward “Gene” Edmonds, 90, of Rensselaer, passed away at his home on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. He was born in Fowler on Feb. 7, 1929 to Edward A. and Mabel (Harbolt) Edmonds. He grew up in Benton County playing basketball, first at Boswell High School, and then at Oxford High School where he graduated with the class of 1947. On Sept. 13, 1949, in Lafayette, he married Elizabeth “Rose” Hay. She preceded him in death on June 28, 2010.
Gene graduated from Indiana State University with his master’s degree in education. After graduation he launched his teaching and coaching career at Jackson Township. He then moved to Chalmers High School where he taught and coached basketball for five years. In 1960 the Edmonds’ moved to Rensselaer where Gene began his 31-year coaching and teaching career at the Rensselaer Central School Corporation. In addition to coaching basketball and teaching math, he started working with the track and field team in 1961. Under the mentorship of legendary head coach Emory Harrison, he learned to appreciate the sport’s events and how to teach them. When Harrison retired as head coach in the mid 1960s, Gene took over the program. Over time, he came to specialize in coaching throwing events, including discus, shot put, and hammer throw.
During his tenure, the Bombers’ track and field team won 11 conference championships. The team also earned back to back sectional championships in 1989 and 1990. Gene said that the first sectional win over powerhouse Lafayette Jeff on their home track was one of his most memorable coaching moments.
Gene and Rose managed the Bomber-Boiler Relays at Purdue University together for 20 years. They enjoyed working meets together and even had the chance to travel to a few international meets. They also hosted the Burvan-Edmonds Golf Outing in Oxford together for 25 years.
In 1991, Gene retired from teaching and coaching at Rensselaer. After retiring he was recruited to join the Purdue track and field staff as the women’s throw coach. The athletes he coached won two NCAA Big Ten championships. Gene retired from Purdue in 1999, but his coaching days were far from over. He helped out as Bill Zimmer’s throw coach back at Rensselaer from 1999 to 2002, and he took on other athletes who sought him out for private coaching.
For most of the years he was coaching track and the years since, he enjoyed an additional career as a track official. Beginning in 1979, he was a Master Certified official with USA Track & Field. He traveled extensively to officiate both national and international meets, including to Los Angeles in 1984 to serve as a finish line clerk at the Olympic Games and to Atlanta for the Olympics in 1996. He also officiated at five Olympic trials, the World Police and Fire Games in Indianapolis, and at several NCAA and USA Track & Field meets.
Gene was named the Horace Crow national official of the year in 1994 and the Andy Bakjian national coach of the year in 1999. He was named the official of the year by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) in 1984 and was given the Meredith Payne Award for coach of the year by the IATCCC in 1990. He was a member of the Rensselaer Athletic Hall of Fame, the Indiana High School Hall of Fame, the IATCCC Hall of Fame, and the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Gene was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, the Navy Club and the American Legion.
Gene is survived by five children: Jim (Toni) Edmonds of Lafayette, Larry (Jackie) Edmonds of Portage, Mike (Charlotte) Edmonds of Waynesboro, GA, Edward O. (Lileanna) Edmonds of Phoenix, AZ, and Valerie (Rick) Frazee of Lafayette; 19 grandchildren; and 36 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Rose Edmonds; one daughter, Carol Odle; one son, Terry Edmonds; and his parents.
Visitation will be Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 from 2-8 p.m. (Central Time) at Steinke Funeral Home, 403 N. Front St., Rensselaer, IN 47978. Funeral services will be held at Steinke Funeral Home on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 at 10 a.m. (Central Time) with Rev. Jeff Cover officiating. Visitation Monday one hour prior to the funeral. Interment will follow at Weston Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the USATF Special Olympics. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.SteinkeFuneralHome.com.