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Athletics mourns Hall of Famer Bill Terwilliger

January 27, 2012
Bill Terwilliger

Bill Terwilliger

Bill Terwilliger, a two-sport standout at Northern Illinois and the oldest living member of the NIU Athletic Hall of Fame, died Thursday, Jan. 26. He was 93.

Terwilliger was a basketball and track and field star at NIU from 1938-41, earning three letters in basketball and four in track and field.

He was elected to the NIU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983.

As a member of the track team, Terwilliger established records in the 100-yard, 220-yard and 440-yard dash while also anchoring a record-setting relay team. Those records stood for over 25 years until the cinder track was moved to a metered all-weather surface in 1966.

Terwilliger was a Little 19 Conference champion in the 100-yard dash (1939, ’41), 220-yard dash (1939-41), 440-yard dash (1940) and the mile relay (1939-41) and helped the team win conference championships in 1939 and 1941.

In 1941 and 1942, Terwilliger was selected to the honorary AAU All-American Track and Field team and he won the AAU National Decathlon Championship in 1942, scoring 6,802 points while winning four events (100-meter dash, 400-meter run, broad jump and discus).

On the basketball court, Terwilliger was the center on NIU’s Little Nineteen Conference Championship team in 1941 that went 15-1. He was named to NIU’s All-Century basketball team during the centennial season of 2000-01.

Terwilliger received his baccalaureate from Northern Illinois and went on to earn his masters from the University of Wisconsin.

A native of DeKalb, Terwilliger graduated from DeKalb Township High School in 1936 where he lettered in football, basketball and track. As a senior, Terwilliger won the Illinois State Track Championship in the 100-yard dash with a time of 9.8 seconds.

Terwilliger earned his private pilot’s license in 1940 and went on to serve in World War II in the Army Air Corp as a B-25 pilot and instructor. He was named outstanding cadet in his squadron. He served in the Air Force reserves and attained the rank of captain.

Terwilliger owned Terwilliger’s Athletics Inc., an athletic supply store in DeKalb, and also had gift shops on Mackinac Island, Mich. In 1973, he was one of the founding board members of the American National Bank of DeKalb and in 1974 he received the NIU Alumni-Varsity Citizens Award for outstanding achievement in a profession or occupation other than education.

He is survived by his two children, John Landis Terwilliger of Troy, Ohio, and Cynthia Stell Terwilliger of Tryon, N.C.; daughter-in-law, Chris Terwilliger; and grandsons, Matthew Landis Terwilliger and Luke William Terwilliger, both of Columbus, Ohio.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, George Landis Terwilliger; and sisters, Harriet Terwilliger Hunt and Mary Terwilliger Miller, all of DeKalb.