Ex-Hawk Elstun dies at age 64

Topeka Capital-Journal, The,  Apr 2, 2000  by Kurt Caywood Capital-Journal

Was teammate of Wilt Chamberlain.

INDIANAPOLIS --- Gene Elstun, co-captain of Kansas' 1957 NCAA runner-up basketball team, died Thursday in Overland Park, Kan., of pancreatic cancer.

Elstun, 64, was the second-leading scorer and rebounder behind Wilt Chamberlain on the Jayhawk team that lost in three overtimes to North Carolina in the championship game. Elstun averaged 11.3 points a game during his senior season. Chamberlain led the Jayhawks in scoring that year with a 29.6 average.

"I know I share with all Jayhawks everywhere great sadness on learning of Gene Elstun's death," KU athletics director Bob Frederick said Saturday evening at the RCA Dome. "The co-captain of the 1957 national finalist was a great gentleman and a significant part of the Jayhawk basketball tradition. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Elstun, a prep standout who led Shawnee Mission High School (now Shawnee Mission North) to the 1953 state championship, averaged 14.2 points as a sophomore for the Jayhawks in 1954-55, and scored 12.8 points a game as a junior in 1955-56.

"Gene was a 6-3 forward," said Jerry Waugh, who was the assistant to KU coach Dick Harp at the time. "We had a lot of kids bigger than Gene and stronger, but Gene was a mover. He was very active as a rebounder and a very solid player."

After graduating from KU, he served two terms of duty in the U.S. Army tank corps, also playing basketball and making the All-Army team in 1959. He went on to work as a manufacturers' representative in the golf industry.

Survivors include his wife, Nancy, sons Doug, who played as a walk- on at North Carolina and KU, and Chad, who played at Wichita State before transferring to North Texas, daughter Pam, and mother Frances, brother Bill and two grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road in Prairie Village. Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today at D.W. Newcomer's Sons, 8201 Metcalf.

Former Kansas star dies of cancer

Posted: Monday April 03, 2000 12:35 AM


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Gene Elstun, a teammate of Wilt Chamberlain on the Kansas basketball team that lost in triple overtime to North Carolina in the 1957 NCAA championship, has died at the age of 64.

Elstun died Thursday of pancreatic cancer. His funeral was scheduled for today at the Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village.

Elstun, also an accomplished golfer, was a manufacturer's representative in the golf equipment industry.

He was born in Kansas City, Mo., and starred in basketball at what was then Shawnee Mission Rural High School, now Shawnee Mission North, captaining the team that won the 1953 state championship.

As a sophomore at Kansas, playing under Phog Allen, the 6-foot-3 Elstun ranked second in scoring with a 14.2 average. He averaged 12.8 points the following season, Allen's last in a long tenure at Kansas.

As a senior in the 1956-57 season under new head coach Dick Harp, with Chamberlain now playing for the Jayhawks for the first time,Elstun was co-captain of a team that went 24-3 and made the NCAA Final Four in Kansas City.

The Jayhawks, champions of what was then the Big Seven Conference, breezed by SMU and Oklahoma City in the regionals and easily stopped San Francisco 80-56 in the championship semifinal.

That set up the thrilling triple-overtime championship game that North Carolina won 54-53. After the Tar Heels took the lead on a pair of free throws with six seconds left in the third overtime, a pass to Chamberlain near the basket was deflected at the buzzer.

Chamberlain, who died last October, was the Jayhawks' leading scorer that season with a 29.6 average, and Elstun was second at 11.3.

"Even though he was only 6-foot-3, he played forward," recalled Jerry Waugh, who was an assistant coach at the time. "That was very unusual because we had other people who were bigger and better jumpers."

After graduation, Elstun served in the Army, also playing basketball and making the all-Army team in 1959.

Both of his sons, high-scoring stars at Shawnee Mission West, followed Elstun into college basketball. The eldest, Doug, started out at North Carolina, later transferring to Kansas where he was a member of the 27-8 team that made the 1991 Final Four, losing to Duke in the championship.

The other son, Chad, played at Wichita State before transferring to North Texas.

In addition to his sons, Elstun is survived by his wife, Nancy, a daughter, Pam, his mother, Frances, a brother, Bill, and two grandchildren.