Voice of Tulsa Run, Jack Wing dies
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
9/12/12 at 11:58 AM
Jack Wing, a leading race organizer and icon of Tulsa's running community who for 16 years was the voice of the Tulsa Run, cheering on thousands of participants as they neared the race's finish line, died Tuesday, family members said.
He was 68.
A memorial service has been set for 2 p.m. Friday at Asbury United Methodist Church under the direction of Moore's Southlawn Funeral Home.
Wing had been battling cancer since 2009.
Succeeding Sue Neil, Wing served for nine years as director of the Tulsa Run 15k race, traditionally held the last Saturday of every October. He stepped down in 2005.
The former Tulsa Running Club president also had been an official with the Route 66 Marathon and other running events.
But the Tulsa Run, begun in 1978, was always his biggest thrill, Wing said.
Of his various organizational roles with the race, the native New Englander - who, despite nearly 40 years in Tulsa, never lost his downeast brogue - became best-known as the race announcer.
On hand at the start to pump up the runners as they took off, Wing then made his way to greet them at the finish line.
Joe McDaniel, one of 23 runners to compete in every Tulsa run, said: "It was great - Jack always called every runner's name out as they crossed. And in his Boston accent. We used to kid him about that."
Wing, who announced at many other races, including charity events, was the Tulsa Run announcer from 1994 to 2010.
He was inspirational not only as the literal voice at races but also as a voice promoting the sport, said Kathy Hoover, a local race director and the owner of Runners- World.
"Jack was a strong leader in the racing community," Hoover said. "He was a dedicated and hard worker behind the scenes to keep racing and races going. He was a Tulsa icon."
Wing, who moved to Tulsa in 1974 with American Airlines' accounting department, worked for the airline for many years and more recently sold real estate.
A good, all-around athlete, Wing played football, basketball and baseball at Saugus High School in Massachusetts.
What he considered possibly his greatest sporting moment came in one of the early Tulsa Runs, however, when U.S. Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter guided him the last mile of the race, as Wing finished in 79 minutes.
Wing had to miss the 1980 Tulsa Run after he stumbled in the dark and broke two toes. But it was that misfortune that spurred him to get involved on the race's administrative side.
Wing was the sixth director in the 35-year history of the Tulsa Run.
Joe Worley, the Tulsa World's executive editor and a former Tulsa Run board member, said that even after Wing passed the director's torch to Marcia Whitaker, he returned for many years as "the man with the loudspeaker at the Tulsa Run finish line."
Beyond the annual 15k, Wing was also "an ambassador for the Tulsa racing community, which grew by thousands during those decades," Worley added.
Said Whitaker: "The running community will miss him on the trails. ... His first passion was running, and he promoted fitness wherever he went."
Wing, who once ran the Boston Marathon, also served twice as the Tulsa Running Club's president, in 1989 and in 1993.
Running stirred Wing's heart in other ways: He and his wife, Sharon Wing, fell in love while running and training together.
They were married near the jogging trails at Tulsa's River Parks.
Route 66 Marathon Director Chris Lieberman, who credits Wing with helping that race get started, said Wing was a vital, behind-the-scenes presence for many races.
But understandably, it will be his voice for which he's best remembered, he added.
"I've been doing some math, and I'd say it's about half a million - and that's conservative - the number of runners, walkers and cyclists that he's encouraged in his announcing," Lieberman said.
"You're coming up on that last half-mile, and you don't know if you can make it," he said. "But then you hear Jack's voice ring out.
"How many thousands of people have had that experience?"
Wing's survivors include his wife of 17 years, Sharon Wing; three sons, Brian Corey, Jared Corey and Derrick Corey; three brothers; and four grandchildren.
Family members ask that memorial donations go to the Tulsa Komen Race for the Cure. This year's race is scheduled for Saturday morning beginning at ONEOK Field.
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
Jack Wing, former race director and announcer of the Tulsa Run and other running events, and a former president of the Tulsa Running Club, died Tuesday of complications from cancer. He was 68. Tulsa World file