EUGENE, Ore. - Retired U.S. Navy Admiral John Dick, the last surviving starter from the University of Oregon's 1939 "Tall Firs" NCAA Championship team, passed away Thursday. He was 92.
"The loss of a man like John Dick diminishes us all," said University President Richard Lariviere. "His presence in our community enriched and inspired us."
Dick, a regular at Duck football and basketball games for decades, was Oregon's leading scorer in the 1939 NCAA Championship game. He scored 13 points in a 46-33 win over Ohio State, and then went on to serve his country in World War II as part of his distinguished U.S. Navy career.
According to his coach, Howard Hobson, the 6-4 post solidified the team that would captured that first NCAA title.
Hailing from The Dalles, Ore., Dick was a starter as the Tall Firs first won the 1939 Pacific Coast Conference Northern Division with a 14-2 record. Oregon then defeated California in a playoff, two games to none, to earn a bid to the eight-team NCAA Tournament. The four qualifiers from the West - Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah State - met at Treasure Island near San Francisco. Oregon defeated Texas 56-41, while Oklahoma stopped Utah State 50-39 to advance to the Western final. The next night, Oregon defeated Oklahoma 55-37 to earn the right to face Eastern victor Ohio State in the very first NCAA Championship game.
As a senior and team captain in 1939-40, not only was Dick named an All-American and all-Pacific Coast Conference after scoring 333 points in 31 contests, but he was also president of the student body. He led the PCC North in scoring, averaging 10.7 points per game and his 75 field goals tied what was then the school single-season record. The Webfoots finished 19-12 that year and 10-6 in the division, two games back of Oregon State. The three-year letterman's No. 18 is one of seven jerseys retired by the University.
Beginning with his enrollment as a freshman in 1936-37, Dick was associated with the University for some seven decades.