Monday, March 6, 2017

Former KU national champion, two-time Olympian Bill Hougland dies at 86

Former KU basketball great Bill Hougland, pictured during his playing days at Kansas in the early 1950s.

Former KU basketball great Bill Hougland, pictured during his playing days at Kansas in the early 1950s.


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.


In 2014, former Kansas basketball great Bill Hougland (left), a member of KU's 1952 national championship team, received the K-Club Lifetime Service Award. Hougland died Monday, March 6, 2017, at the age of 86.

“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.”


Suzi Marshall 2 years ago

Very sad news. Hougland was a special guy and had a back for making everyone feel like a long lost friend. Spending a lot of time in Lawrence over the past 4 years, we seemed to run into him all around town. Lawrence is such a cool place to come back to and visit will all those old KU guys. Hougland and that whole group are so kind. He will be missed.

Bill Pitcher 2 years ago

I worked with Bill until he retired in '91. Bill was a stand-up, positive, humble man who'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed help. Set a great example daily. What a wonderful man; he will be missed. Godspeed.

Chris Bailey 2 years ago

I always enjoy hearing personal stories such as these. My condolences to you for your loss as I'm sure you will miss him dearly.

Tom Gillaspie 2 years ago

Not too long after he retired he had a house built at Lawrence Country Club. I worked for the contractor who built the house. I always remember how kind and gracious he was when he would visit the job site. He was definitely humble, I had to tell several of the guys working on the house who he was. Sad to hear of his passing. A great example, and ambassador for Kansas University.

Barry Weiss 2 years ago

well, that was before my time, RIP Bill.

Mike Greer 2 years ago

I was in the Phillips Gym the other day and they are decorating the walls and hallways with large photographs of many of the old 66ers. I'm going to have to look to see if Bill Hougland is hanging on the wall somewhere in the old gym.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years ago

Well said by everyone. Mr. Hoaglund wasn't before my time (I was born in 1948) Barry, but as a young boy at the time, I don't have much first hand memory of KU basketball prior to Wilt. However, rest assured that, if coverage in those days had been as widespread as it is now, I would have been a faithful Jayhawk before I was 8, when Wilt came on the scene.

Mr. Hoaglund is a legend for all he has done both on and off the court. Now that he is reunited with many of his contemporaries, including the great Coach Phog and his teammates, he and us have a ton of wonderful memories to sustain us and his family. God speed!

Andy Hess 2 years ago

When I was a brand new salesman at Laird Noller Automotive in Lawrence, I had the privilege to assist Bill Hougland in purchasing a new Ford Expedition for an upcoming hunting trip he was taking with his grandchildren. He was an exceedingly patient and kind man in my dealing with him. I think he appreciated me treating him like a human being (because I didn't initially realize who he was) instead of fawning over him like the management was doing. It's an honor to have met him, and to share an Alma Mater with him. Rest in Peace, Mr. Hougland.

David Robinett 2 years ago

One of the men that paved the way for what we fans all enjoy today.

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