Bill Hougland, a starter for the Kansas 1952 national championship team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, died Monday.
Hougland, 86, lived in Lawrence with wife, Carolie. His trademark smile was easy to spot on campus at Kansas men’s and women’s basketball games, volleyball games and, as recently as last month, at KU baseball games.
“He was a special player for us back in the old days,” said Jerry Waugh, a teammate who was one year ahead of Hougland in school. “Bill played to exhaustion. I think Doc Allen brought that out in his players.”
A state champion in basketball and as a high-jumper at Beloit High, after graduating from Kansas, Hougland spent more than a year in the Air Force and served in Japan. One of his mementos from that time, a photo with Marilyn Monroe, who was on a morale-boosting tour visiting troops, hangs on the basement wall of his Lawrence home.
Hougland worked and played AAU basketball for Phillips Petrolium, which won the national championship, opening spots on the Olympic team for the squad’s top players. He also played with Kansas teammates for the 1952 Olympic squad.
“We lost one of our all-time KU greats today in Bill Hougland,” Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said. “Bill was not only successful as an athlete at Kansas, being part of the 1952 team and winning two Olympic gold medals, but a very successful business man during his adult years and made Lawrence his home. He leaves behind a beautiful family and will be missed by all.”
After eight years with Phillips Petrolium in Bartlesville, Okla., Hougland went to work for Koch Industries, the parent company of Koch Oil, Inc., in Wichita. He became vice president for Koch Industries and president of Koch Oil before retiring in 1991.
Bill and Carolie Hougland donated more than $1.2 million to his alma mater to aid the Alumni Association, business school, athletic department and Spencer Art Museum, according to a release from KU Athletics.
“Doc would be very proud of Bill because that’s what he preached: to come to school and play basketball and go out and do something with your education,” Waugh said. “That’s exactly what he did. Bill was a good man and a good friend.”