By MARVIN HOGAN, Sports Editor
Poor health drove Charles Paddock out of Gainesville.
The will to win drove him to an Olympic sprint crown, and the title of “the World’s Fastest Human.”
Paddock, who died in a plane crash near Sitka, Alaska, on July 21, 1943, was born in Gainesville on Aug. 11, 1900.
When he developed health problems at an early age, his parents, Charles H. and Lulu (Robinson) Paddock, moved to Pasadena, Calf., in hopes the climate would improve his health.
The Paddocks left Gainesville before Paddock was a year old.
He attended Pasadena schools and graduated from Pasadena High School.
While in school, Paddock was an excellent student and produced several plays.
In 1915, the 14-year old Paddock dramatized Scott’s “The Fair Maid of Perth.”
According to the “Pasadena Star,” Paddock wrote this play, taken from Sir Walter Scott’s book.
A year earlier, Paddock turned “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” into a play.
After an outstanding high school track career, Paddock entered The University of Southern California. During his college career, Paddock never lost a 100-yard dash or the 220-yard dash.
Paddock set a world record in the 100-yard dash and tied the world record in the 220-yard dash at Berkeley, Calif. in 1921.
At the 1920 Olympic games in Antwerp, Belgium, he captured the gold medal in the 100 and won a silver medal in the 200.
He also ran the print races in the 1924 Olympic games in Paris. He was one of the featured characters in the 1982 movie, “Chariots of Fire” which told the story of Scottish runner Eric Liddel.
In 1929, Paddock retired from competition. On Dec. 11, 1930 he married Neva Prisk.
Prisk was the daughter of Charles H. Prisk, the co-owner, editor and manager of the Pasadena Star newspaper.
After his marriage, Paddock entered the newspaper business.
He eventually served as vice president and general manager of the Pasadena Star-News, the Pasadena Post and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Paddock also was an author and movie producer.
Not only was Paddock dubbed, “the World’s Fastest Human,” he was also noted for his unusual finishing style.
About 12 feet from the finish line, he leaped at the tape.
A University of Southern California graduate, Paddock was inducted into the USC hall of fame in 1995. He set 13 world and U.S. sprint records and was a four year letterman and captain of the 1923 Trojan track team.
His world record of 10.2 in the 100, set in 1921, was equaled 11 years later, but wasn’t broken until 1950.
Paddock is also in the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
When recalling his track career, Paddock wrote in the Pasadena Star-News that sports held a special place in his life. “Sports to me,” Paddock wrote, “offers the greatest opportunity for the expression of color and romance in newspaper writing.”
Paddock is remembered by several California cities and the U.S. Navy.
• The S.S Charles Paddock, a liberty ship, was launched on Dec. 26, 1943.
• The zoo in Atascadero, Calf., is named after Paddock
• A Pasadena Boys Club field was named after Paddock in 1948.
Besides being a playwright, Paddock was also an actor, and also edited the Daily Trojan.
He was a lieutenant of field artillery in WWI and served on the staff of Maj. Gen. W. P. Upshur during WWII.
Upshur and Paddock were killed, with four other men, in a plane crash on July 21, 1943 in Sitka, Alaska.
Paddock was buried in the military cemetery in Sitka, at least until after the war.
In a story in the Pasadena Star-News, just after he was commissioned, Paddock said he chose the Marines because of their tradition.
“I wanted to join the Marines because I feel that branch of the service will see plenty of action.
“I feel that in this war most of the action will be in the Marines because to make any progress in the invasion of Japan or establishing a second front in Europe bases have to be set up and the Marines are the ones to do that.”
More than 1,000 people attended the memorial service on July 26, 1943, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.
Paddock was survived by his widow and two sons Prisk Paddock and Paddy Paddock.