Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sports Center Saturday - Donald Blessing, Olympian

Don Blessing married Nola Dillon, daughter of John Laban and Lu (Lawrence) Dillon. Don, with his teammates, won an Olympic gold medal at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Donald F. Blessing (December 26, 1905 – July 4, 2000) was an American coxswain who competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics, held in Amsterdam. Don was born in Holister, California.
In 1928 he was the coxswain of the American boat, which won the gold medal in the eights. Don was the Most Valuable Man as voted by his teammates on the UC/USA crew. The USA eight was composed of men from the University of California and was the first of 3 Olympic eights that would come from Cal and win gold. The University sent gold medal-winning crews in 1932 (Los Angeles) and 1948 (London) as well.
Don Blessing was also one of the original eight owners of the Oakland Raiders Football Club (AFL, now the NFL) and was a lifelong Californian, residing in Piedmont, CA and Belvedere, CA for most of his adult life. He also was a lifelong Bear Backer, a charter member of the San Francisco Grid Club and among the first group of inductees to the University California Hall of Fame.
[Source:  Wikipedia]

SS President Roosevelt Manifest
Sailling from Cherbourg, France on Aug 14th, 1928
Arriving Port of New York on Aug/ 22nd, 1928
Line 8 - Blessing, Donald
[Source:  Ancestry]
Oakland Tribune, California
August 31, 1928, Page 3
[Source:  Newspaper Archive]
The Bears Who Rowed Their Way to World-Wide Fame Are Home
     Hailed as "the greatest ambassadors we have sent to Europe since the signing of the peace treaty," and loaded down with congratulations and gifts of a more substantial nature, the University of California's Olympic championship crew is home.  Enthusiasm transcending that of the biggest "big game" ever held rocked the college city yesterday when members of the crew and their coach, Ky Ebright, arrived on the Gold Coast Limited and passed through streets lined with thousands of cheering citizens to the university campus.   There the university welcomed them home, and students staged a rally in the Greek theater to mete out their praise and their greeting to these heroes.  Last night the city claimed them back again for a mammoth banquet, once more paying tribute to the sturdy boys who pulled the hearts out of the best crews the rest of the world had to offer.  Pictures show:  Left, DON BLESSING, diminutive coxswain, being greeted by his mother, MRS. IVY BLESSING; lower right, first greetings at the Berkeley station - left to right, JACK BRINCK, MARVIN STALDER, MAYOR M. B. DRIVER, PRESIDENT W. W. CAMPBELL, CARROLL DRESSLER, COXSWAIN DON BLESSING, and AL RYDLANDER; upper right, view of a small section of the crowd gathered at the station. - TRIBUNE photos.

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