Jan. 12, 2012
Vern McGrew '50, who earned a spot on the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team in the high jump at just 18 years of age and went on to win an NCAA title in 1950, passed away in Houston's Methodist Hospital on January 9.
McGrew was a 1946 graduate from Houston's Lamar High School. He won the state high jump title, setting a state record in the process. Two years later, he earned the right to represent his country at the London Olympics, where he was accompanied by his Rice coach, Emmett Brunson, who had been named earlier as an assistant coach for the U.S. Team.
He was the second-youngest member of the American team, the first product from a Houston high school to reach the Games as well as Rice's second Olympic competitor(Claude Bracey competed in the 1928 Amsterdam Games. Fred Wolcott was selected to the 1940 team, but those Games were cancelled due to World War II). McGrew reached the Olympic high jump finals, finishing 14th.
After graduating from Rice, he attended graduate school at the University of Texas and then returned to Austin after two years of military service, graduating from University of Texas Law School in 1956. After law school, Vern joined the Humble Oil and Refining Company, later known as Exxon, where he worked for 30 years before retiring.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions in Vern's name may be directed to Rice University, Office of Development - MS-80, Attn: Athletic Department, PO Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892.