Eddie Southern, the legendary Texas track star from Oak Cliff who started his race to Olympics fame at Sunset HS, died May 17 at age 85. Burial will be at DFW National Cemetery at a date to be announced.
At Sunset HS, Southern was the 1955 Student Body President and also the State Track Champion in 1954 and 1955. As a young sprinter at Sunset HS in 1954-1955, Southern won four state titles as he swept the 220 and 440-yard dash events both years. He also set national records for those events during his senior year. For his high school achievements Southern was named a Sanger Cup Trophy Hall of Fame honoree, and also the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.
His winning ways continued at the University of Texas in Austin, culminating in his being named to the Texas Track and Field Hall of Fame. After his freshman year at UT, Southern took up the hurdles. He found even greater success in the one-lap, 400 meter/440-yard event, and joined the U.S. Olympic team at age 18.The unstoppable Southern went on to worldwide acclaim by winning a Silver Medal in the 400 Meter Hurdles at the 1956 Olympic Games.
Eddie Southern Wins Silver Medal
After Southern finished second to Ohio State’s Glenn Davis at the 1956 Olympics, he went on to produce victories and break records for Longhorn teams from 1957-1959. He won the NCAA title in the 440-yard dash as a team captain in 1959, and proved unbeatable any time he took the field in Southwest Conference races. Southern won three individual SWC titles in the 440-yard dash and mile relay events, and was the high scorer at the 1958 SWC meet.
After graduating from the University of Texas in 1959, Southern once again competed internationally for the Pan American Games, winning a silver medal with the US 400 meter relay team. He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation, and then entered the local restaurant industry. For a time, he and his mother owned and operated a deli on Cedar Ridge Road in Duncanville.
Eddie Southern was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1969, Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 1973, and the Texas Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.