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Long-Time Fla. A&M Track Coach Dies

May 14, 1998

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Pete Griffin, the track coach at Florida A&M who helped develop 1964 Olympic gold medalist Bob Hayes, died after a long illness. He was 81.

Griffin died Wednesday at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

``He was a soft-spoken person that everybody respected,″ university spokesman Eddie Jackson said Thursday. ``He lived to improve the quality of life for all of those he came in contact with.″

His most famous pupil was Hayes, who not only became the world’s fastest human but also a star wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.

``Coach Pete was the first to recognize that Hayes was something special,″ Jackson said. ``He also was the first to recognize that his technique should not be interfered with, that he was a natural runner.″

Hayes, 55, cried when he heard the news of his coach’s death.

``I loved him,″ said Hayes, winner of the 100 meters in a world record-equaling 10.0 seconds at Tokyo 34 years ago. ``I have lost a good friend and a mentor and a father.″

Griffin, who was a star center on the school’s undefeated and unscored-upon football team during the 1938 regular season, also was the school’s football coach in 1970, replacing the renowned Jake Gaither.

He retired from the school in 1976.

Griffin is survived by his wife Charlotte and daughter Leslie.

A memorial service is scheduled Monday at the Florida A&M campus. The funeral will be Tuesday.

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