Monday, August 4, 2014

KU great Loneski dies



Photo courtesy of Kansas University Spencer Research Library

Kansas players, from left, Maurice King, Gene Elstun, Wilt Chamberlain, John Parker and Ron Loneski stand at attention during the national anthem prior to the start of the 1957 national championship game.

Former Kansas University basketball player Ron Loneski died Friday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital at the age of 77. Arrangements are pending and will be announced by Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home.

Loneski, who was a roommate of Wilt Chamberlain at KU and starter on KU’s 1957 NCAA runner-up team, was first-team all-league for three seasons and honorable mention All-American.

According to the Northwest Times of Indiana, he was the first player from Illinois (Calumet City) to play in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Game in 1955. He was also selected to play in the East/West Shrine Game in 1959.

During college, Loneski was involved in ROTC and upon graduation took commission.

He remained in the service for 21 years, earning the rank of colonel.

Loneski, according to the paper, served in Germany for 51⁄2 years and had two terms in Vietnam. His military distinctions include the Bronze Star for Valor, Bronze Star for Meritorious Service and the Purple Heart. Loneski became a teacher in 1980. He taught special education English at Lincoln High in San Diego for 20 years and was the basketball coach for the first 10 years. Loneski retired in 2000 has lived in Lawrence the past several years.


Gavin Fritton 8 years ago

What a shame to lose anther KU great and a great American.

Adam Miller 8 years ago

"...had two terms in Vietnam." -- did he go to school there. I imagine you meant "tours"?

Theodore Thadogweadore 8 years ago

Had the pleasure of meeting him during the 100th anniversary celebration in 1998. He was generous with his time and told a few stories, including one from his days teaching Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis in high school.

Bryce Landon 8 years ago

As I see more and more people living into their 80s and 90s, it seems like 77 is a young age at which to die. Just serves to remind me that nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow.

Looking at the photo included with this article, it is inconceivable to me now how the Final Four could be played in a small arena like Municipal Auditorium.

Since Germany was split in two during that era, I assume he spent time in the US-occupied zone of what was then West Germany - or did he spend any time in the US-occupied sector of West Berlin?

In any case, thank you, Mr. Loneski, for 77 years of a life lived well. Though you may not have won a national championship in 1957, you were a champion in the game of life. Rest in peace, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

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