Donald Gammie, whose records in Masters Track inspired the Grassy Knob Firefighters Association to name their Thanksgiving Day trail run in his honor, died Tuesday at the age of 83 at Eureka Springs Hospital. Memorial service is Saturday, June 7, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, with a reception to follow in the fellowship hall.
Mr. Gammie started running competitively at the age of 47, and entered his first marathon, the New York Marathon, in 1978. The walls of his den at Beaver Lake house are covered with first-place plaques in Masters Track. At age 58, Mr. Gammie ran the 3,000 meter track race in 10 minutes, 4.49 seconds, beating the previous world record for men ages 50 to 59, a record that still stands. At the same Masters track meet in Knoxville, Tenn., he set a national record in the 1500-meter track race, 4:45:08.
In all, Mr Gammie completed 35 marathons and races in the past four decades, usually finishing first in his age group. In an interview with the Citizen in November of 2012, he explained "I didn't like people to pass me."
The son and grandson of Scots, Mr. Gammie was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on Nov. 29, 1930. He became a civil engineer, and was working on the Isle of Wight when he met Jean Rood. Don and Jean married in 1953 and emigrated to the United States in 1959.
Moving to Ohio, he ran a half marathon or 5K almost every weekend and was inducted into the Running Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. In 1989, the Ohio State House of Representatives issued a proclamation recognizing Mr. Gammie's achievement for setting records at the Knoxville meet. He retired from engineering at the age of 70 in 2000. In 2012, the Grassy Knob Firefighters Association named their 3.1 mile trail run/1 mile walk at Lake Leatherwood Park the Don Gammie Turkey Trot.
Mr. Gammie was preceded in death by his parents, George Milne and Eveline Hindle Gammie, and an infant daughter, Leslie Anne Gammie. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jean A. Gammie, daughter Denise Knight; three sons Peter, Duncan and Gordon Gammie; a sister, Marwyn Kaye, and 11 grandchildren: Ian and Raleigh Knight, Rachael, Nathan, and August Gammie; LeeAnne, Daniel (Hadley), Jennifer, Michelle and Philip Gammie and Jessica Gammie.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (alzfdn.org). Nelson Funeral Home was in charge of cremation. Online condolences may be sent to nelsonfuneral.com. #