VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Villanova University track coach James F. (Jumbo) Elliott was eulogized Thursday as a man whose outstanding professional achievements were overshadowed by his worth as a human being.
More than 250 people jammed St. Thomas of Villanova Chapel on the university campus for a Mass of Christian Burial for Elliott, who died Sunday of a heart attack at his Juno Beach, Fla., condominium at the age of 66.
A number of Elliott's former athletes, including Olympic gold medalists Ron Delany, Charlie Jenkins and Don Bragg and world record holders Eamonn Coghlan, Marty Liquori and Don Paige, attended the funeral mass. The current Villanova track team served as an honor guard.
The Rev. John M. Driscoll, president of Villanova, praised Elliott the coach and Elliott the man.
'He made an unrivaled contribution to the most ancient of sports,' Driscoll said. 'His recognition was world-wide, proclaimed at every level. President Ford on a visit to this campus took admiring note of his presence.
'He produced an unmatched galaxy of individual athletes whose names and records -- on and off the track -- still continue to elicit only admiration and respect -- the ultimate tribute to the coach who served his athletes both as model and mentor.
'But Jim Elliott's professional achievements were far overshadowed by Jim Elliott's worth as a man. A loving husband, a devoted father, a loyal friend ... Jumbo touched the personal lives of many people in ways that profoundly influenced them.'
During his 47 years as Villanova coach, Elliott developed 28 athletes who competed in the Olympic games, five of whom won a total of six gold medals. His teams won 51 track and field and cross country championships.
Jenkins, who won two gold medals in the 1956 Olympics, said Elliott was much more than just an excellent track coach.
'It was the type of person Jumbo was, the concern he had for his boys and with their development not only as an athlete, but also in terms of getting an education,' he said after the mass. 'He was a great man. Jumbo liked to win but he instilled that in all of us in sports and in life.'
Following the one-hour mass, burial was held at Calvary Cemetary in West Conshohocken.