For those of you who remember Readers Digest series of “My Most Unforgettable Character,” Jerry Van Dyke is my most unforgettable character. Over the last 20 years, I have had the great pleasure of spending many hours with Jerry recounting his life's experiences.
Jerry was born in Denver, Colorado in 1934 and has lived here his entire life. His uncle took him to a midget race at lakeside speedway in 1946, and he was hooked on racing. He went to St. Francis High School in Denver and besides playing football (lineman both ways) and baseball, he also was on the boxing team. In college at DU he punted and place kicked on the football team. He graduated with a degree in marketing and from then he combined his love of car racing with an exemplary career in advertising, shown by the many awards he received from that industry. He did marketing and advertising work at CDR (where he first announced), Englewood Speedway, Colorado National Speedway, Rocky Mountain National Speedway, and Pikes Peak International Raceway. He announced at all of these tracks and several others over the span of a career lasting nearly 50 years. Just a few months ago, he was inducted into the Colorado Motor Sports Hall of Fame and was the only inductee to receive a standing ovation.
He was involved in advertising agency ownership for over 40 years and his agency merged with the Sam Lusky agency and formed the largest advertising agency in Denver for 4 of the 8 years he was there. He then formed a smaller agency which he still runs with his family at age 74. He performed in the Denver Post Operas from his teens to young adult years. He once performed in a Broadway play that came to Central City. Jerry also announced for the WWF for over 20 years and became familiar with the legends of wrestling.
In 1990, Jerry discovered his ancestry was connected to the Clan McGregor, and he attended his first highland Games. He immediately jumped into to the athletics with both feet (a lifelong trait for Jerry) and started to compete on a regular basis in the master's class.
In 1992 while attending the Denver Grand Prix, I heard Jerry announcing the race. Since the RMSA had never had an announcer, I approached Jerry about being our announcer for Highland Games and he readily agreed - hence another career for Jerry. And for anyone who has enjoyed listening to him announce the games, he is simply the BEST. Jerry has also served on the RMSA Board plus the HOF committee and for all of his years of involvement, has become our conscience - making sure we maintain the integrity of the games, offer a safe environment for athletes and spectators, and provide an enduring entertainment and educational experience. Jerry brought so much experience from his years involved in business, racing and wrestling that helped us become better. Jerry also started the Morning Prayer circles that have become part of our regional games. And let's not forget the constant ribbing our Irish Athletes (Murphy & Duff especially) endured from Jerry. And the humor - how could we ever forget the jokes...well, the truth is we can't forget them because we heard them so many times.
Jerry has 3 daughters, Barbara, Cheri and Laura, 6 grand children and 5 great grand children.
If there was a LIFE Hall of Fame, Jerry would be a charter member, but for today we only get to induct Jerry Van Dyke as the first ever member of the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes Hall of Fame.
Russ Murphy was born in Chicago on June 25, 1938 and spent his early years in Chicago, mostly on the south side. He went to Calumet High School and was involved athletically in bowling and shot put. His involvement in Track and Field throwing events was also the beginning of his involved with weight lifting. Russ was both strong and fast. His track once coach ran him against the state record holder in the 100-yard dash. Although he outweighed the sprinter by 100 pounds, Russ lost the race by only 2 steps. Russ worked summers as a guide in Canada, often living totally off the land.
Russ went to the University of Illinois at Chicago for one year and then entered into an apprenticeship program for machinists. In 1961, he received a draft notice, but, after being told that his size—52" chest, 36" waist, 270 lbs.—didn't meet the draft criteria, Russ enlisted in the Air Force. He stayed for 8 years, attended nuclear weapons school at Lowry AFB, and competed in Olympic lifting in the super heavy class.
Russ was the first person in North America to squat 4 times his body weight (1020 lbs). He's won the Maine and New Hampshire Weightlifting Champions and placed second in the Northeast States Weightlifting Championships. After the Air Force, Russ returned to Colorado and settled in Denver. He went to work for Dow Chemical as a machinist, until he retired 27 years later.
Russ threw the Olympic hammer as a hobby. He got involved in Nike TAC (The Athletic Congress) Masters Throwing. At age 53, he placed third in the USA in the Weight Pentathlon, even though he walked onto the field that day. The Weight Pentathlon is Shot Put, 35lbs. Weight for Distance, Hammer, Discus, and Javelin.
In 1980, one of his Nike TAC friends told him about the Scottish Games in Golden, and Russ went to check it out. Jerry Bradshaw saw him and invited him to compete. In 1981, Russ competed in three games, five games in 1982, and between fifteen and eighteen games a season thereafter. The Masters class didn't start until 1987 in this region, but Russ still holds field records at some games for the heavy weight for distance. Russ was twice the USA's top master's athlete at Santa Rosa, without the benefit of age groups or handicap.
Over the years, Russ took over much of the responsibility of making and fixing RMSA's equipment. He became known around the country as a superb caber maker, supplying over 300 cabers to various games around the country. There are still Murphy weights being used at many games. Russ competed until 2006, when a hip injury forced him to retire from competition. He continued judging and building cabers until recently.
At the turn of the millennium, Russ dreamed up a unique feat that couldn't be duplicated for a thousand years. Within 24 hours, Russ became the only person to toss cabers in two millenniums and two centuries in the last time zone of the Southern Hemisphere (New Zealand) and in first time zone of the Northern Hemisphere (Hawaii). If you've ever seen the back of the shirt he frequently wears, you are probably aware of this event.
Over the years, Russ became the de-facto ambassador for the RMSA, sharing many ideas and methods developed here around the world. I don't think we could ever estimate the number of athletes Russ has recruited and coached. Russ was an Athletic Director for at least 8 games and judged at countless others. Russ helped me refine the decathlon scoring system, and he and I spent many a night together during the 1980's hand writing, printing and mailing the RMSA newsletter.
Russ has one daughter, Dede and one son, Sean—both of whom have competed in the Scottish Athletics.
Russ is synonymous with the RMSA and all it stands for. The RMSA is forever in debt to Russ for what he has given to us and the rest of the world's throwers. Russ Murphy was inducted into the Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletes Hall of Fame at the Elizabeth Celtic Festival in Elizabeth, Colorado on July 19, 2009.