Elias Gilbert, a physical education/reading instructor at Powell Elementary School and an assistant track coach in the D.C. School system for the last 11 years, died of a heart attack last week. He was 49.
A native of Linden, N.J., he graduated from Winston-Salem State in North Carolina.
He was an outstanding track performer in the late 1950s, once holding world records in the 110 high hurdles and 220 low hurdles. He made the 1956 U.S. Olympic team and was fifth in the 110 hurdle finals.
"He worked with me for 11 years -- the first six at Ballou, a couple at Anacostia and the last three here at Spingarn," said Bruce Williams, the boys track coach at Spingarn. "He was like a big brother to me. He was easy going and always eager to help any athlete, regardless of what school he attended. He really gave of himself freely and didn't worry about not being paid. We used to split my (coaching) salary.
"This was a total shock. We were together at the Howard Relays (April 12th) and worked together that Monday afternoon. He didn't show up Tuesday afternoon for practice and I found out that night he had died while teaching that morning at school. He's going to be sorely missed by everyone."