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Daughter admired just like her father

by Nate Allen | July 30, 2016 at 2:16 a.m.
Arkansas coach John Barnhill and an unidentified player watch a game in 1949. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette File)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas has lost its last family link to the Razorbacks' hall of fame athletic director of the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Nancy Barnhill Trumbo, 75, daughter of the late John Barnhill, died Tuesdayin Fayetteville.

John Barnhill came to Arkansas from Tennessee as athletic director/football coach in 1946 and coached the Razorbacks to a Southwest Conference championship in his first season.

By 1949, Barnhill retired from coaching, his balance affected by multiple sclerosis.

The disease couldn't deter Barnhill as an athletic director.

From the Razorback clubs he formed to moving the Texas game from Little Rock to Memphis, creating demand to break ground on Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium in 1947, Barnhill advanced the Razorbacks. He preached Arkansas' statewide unity to the Hogs as essential to competing against larger universities with more resources and a larger population base.

Barnhill hired Bowden Wyatt, who took Arkansas by storm with his "25 Little Pigs," shocking the football world by upsetting Texas in Austin and winning the 1954 Southwest Conference. But he created an Arkansas storm by crossing the border to coach Tennessee, his alma mater.

After Jack Mitchell left Arkansas for Kansas after the 1957 season, Barnhill hired Frank Broyles. Broyles became Arkansas' most pivotal athletic figure as its winningest football coach (144-58-5) from 1958-1976. Broyles expanded Arkansas athletics from football and not much else into an all-sports powerhouse during his 1973-2008 Razorbacks run as athletic director.

Broyles said he achieved the success by sticking with the "Barnie blueprint" that above all Arkansas' unity is Arkansas' strength.

Barnhill was a tough man, sticking by young Broyles and his 0-6 first-year start in 1958 that ended with four victories. That led into a Southwest Conference championship in 1959 and national championship in 1964.

Barnhill and his wife, Katherine, who died with Nancy still in high school, raised a daughter maybe even tougher than himself.

Nancy enduring her last 45 years calling the Hogs despite the crippling pain of rheumatoid arthritis exceeds traditional toughness. So does her being kicked out of hospice because she outlived her cancer prognosis.

Always as matter of fact as her father, Nancy said, "I didn't die soon enough to suit them, and they don't know what to do with me."

Previously, she survived a heart attack and a stroke.

She did more than survive. She thrived.

Despite being the child of a famous parent, Nancy carved her own niche. As a magna cum laude graduate at Arkansas and a teacher at Woodland Junior High School for 15 years, she is remembered on recent Facebook posts not only by students, but also by teachers who said she mentored them.

Although not as famous as her father, Nancy is no less admired than her beloved daddy.

Sports on 07/30/2016

Print Headline: Daughter admired just like her father

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