Newt Loken, a legendary figure in U.S. gymnastics, passed away Tuesday, June 28, in Eugene, Ore. He was 92.
Loken was born in Breckenridge, Minn., and competed for the University of Minnesota, where he won the 1941 NCAA title on high bar and the NCAA all-around crown in 1942.
While doing graduate work at the University of Michigan, Loken ressurected the Wolverine men's gymnastics team, which had been dropped. He was its head coach from 1948-83, and his Wolverines won the NCAA title in 1963 and 1970. Loken also coached the cheerleading team and trampoline team for several years.
Though he retired from Michigan in 1983, Loken never stopped attending the home meets and was also a frequent visitor to workouts.
"His impact and influence on everyone he met was truly a gift," Michigan coach Kurt Golder told mgoblue.com. "I was fortunate enough to not only be mentored by him as a student-athlete, but as a coach, as well. There are many of his principles I still use today. Newt will be missed by many, but he will always be remembered. He will forever be the father of Michigan men's gymnastics."
Prior to his death, Loken, who was described as "The Gentleman of Gymnastics," requested a small memorial service for immediate family.
In an email, Loken's son, Newt Jr., wrote that his father had requested a small memorial service for immediate family and "a huge celebration of life in Ann Arbor, mid-late July within the Athletic Department."
Loken is survived by his wife, Dorothy Ann, and four children.