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John G. "Jack" Beckner

1930 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John “Jack” Beckner, NCAA Championship Coach and Three-Time Olympian, dies at 86.

Dubbed “a USA gymnastic era unto himself” by the U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame, John Gilbert “Jack” Beckner passed away in his sleep on November 16, 2016.

His first competition was for Franklin High School in 1948 where he won first place on the parallel bars in the All-City meet. He starred for Los Angeles City College and then the University of Southern California where he won NCAA Champion in the All Around, 1952, and Parallel Bars Champion in 1951 and 1952. He was a five-time NCAA All American. Jack won nine gold medals in the Pan American Games and won National AAU All-Around Champion four straight years: 1956-1959. Beckner graduated from USC in 1953, and entered the US Army, 7th Corps, Special Services, where he competed in exhibition meets throughout Europe. He competed in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, the 1956 Games at Melbourne, and the 1960 Games in Rome. He coached the US Olympic Team in the 1968 Mexico City Games. He coached the USC Men’s Gymnastics Team from 1957 until 1981 when the team was disbanded, and won USC’s only Gymnastics National Championship in 1962. His gymnasts won 14 national individual titles in NCAA, NAAU, and United States Gymnastics Federation competition.

Jack was a highly respected national and international judge. A lifetime member of the USA Gymnastics Federation, Jack was a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. 1989 saw him inducted into the National Gymnastics Judges Association Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame and in 2011 into the Los Angeles High Schools Sports Hall of Fame.

He was a long time Physical Education teacher in the LA Unified School District, and a judge at many youth gymnastics meets in Southern California including the Watts Summer Games and the Special Olympics.

Jack was the second son of Lola and Andrew Vernon Beckner of Highland Park. A fifty-two year resident of Studio City, he is survived by his wife Barbara, sons John and Michael and daughter Maria. He was very proud of his ten grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Blind Children’s Center at 4120 Marathon Street • Los Angeles, California 90029. [email protected] • 323.664.2153
Published in Los Angeles Daily News on Jan. 17, 2017
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