In 1947, Walter Ashcraft coached the Southern Oregon University women’s team to a 3-6 record. Then he became a sergeant with the U.S. Army. And the next year, he helped the women’s team to a conference championship. Then he took over the men’s program.
He also coached the women’s basketball team and for many years served as athletic director at his alma mater.
On Thursday, Ashcraft, a college football hero who coached and taught and helped shape some of the top figures in female athletics, died at 91.
He was born in Anniston, Ala., on Feb. 22, 1924, the fifth of 10 children. He went to Southern Oregon for college, but a gunfight with his Southern Methodist teammates when he was drafted during World War II cut short his playing career.
In 1950, he was hired as Southern Oregon’s football coach, but left in 1951 to become an army sergeant and lead the soccer team for the following 16 years.
At the end of the 1965 season, he announced he was retiring from coaching, but agreed to return to the Southern Oregon coaching job one year later.
During his second year as football coach, Ashcraft led his team to a 22-8 record. His best season came in 1968, when the team went 11-1 and finished second in the West Division, including a 58-14 victory over rival Oregon in the conference championship game.
The team also played in a bowl game, where it beat Holy Cross 13-0.