Bob Behr ’55 is no stranger to athletic accolades. An exceptional track and field runner and coach, Behr was one of seven athletes to comprise the 1996 class of the Delaware Track and Field Hall of Fame. On May 16, he and nine others will be elected into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Del.
While at the College, Behr starred for men’s track and field. An Illinois native, he decided to attend the College because “some upperclassmen from my high school that I admired had come to Williams and I wanted to follow them,” he said. In addition, his mother was from Massachusetts and was familiar with the school. Behr soon made a name for himself as an outstanding sprinter, setting a school record of 21.33 seconds for the 200m. He also anchored the mile relay team.
Behr won three medals at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden. He said his fondest memories of his running career were from the mile relay. “Coming from behind to win a mile relay in Madison Square Garden as the anchor and getting a rousing cheer from all of the attendees was the biggest highlight,” Behr said. “We had a very good mile relay team back then.”
After graduating from the College, Behr continued to be involved in many track and field-related endeavors. He was a sprinting consultant for the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years, as well as the Delaware correspondent for Sports Illustrated for 15 years. Additionally, he spent nearly two decades teaching English and coaching track at Tower Hill School, a private school in Delaware. Behr was not only essential to the creation of the Delaware Track and Field Club but also helped establish and coach women’s track and field teams in Delaware.
Between 1962 and 1981, Behr amassed a dual meet record of 160-28-2, and under his guidance, athletes at Tower Hill set eight state records and won numerous competitions ranging from the New Castle County title to the state crown. Tower Hill alone earned 56 of the 224 possible Div. II state titles while Behr was in charge. He coached the boys’ mile relay team to victory in their section of the Penn Relays four times, and his athletes went to the cross country state championship six times.
Behr noted that the technique and mindset of his own coach at the College, Tony Plansky, helped shape how he interacted with the runners he instructed. “He taught me to let the athletes find their own route and with as little gentle guidance as possible,” Behr said.
In 1981, Behr moved back to Williamstown and spent his time serving in various roles at the College. He has served as director of the Williams alumni fund, director of alumni relations and volunteer assistant track coach. In addition, he was both the creator and director of the Alumni Travel-Study Program, which aims to give alumni enriching experiences in foreign countries, where they travel with and learn from Williams faculty members. Behr was also the public address announcer at home track meets during that time, becoming quite literally “the voice of Ephs’ track and field.”
Few could appreciate the tremendous impact that Behr has had on Williams track better than Pete Farwell ’73, who was head coach of both men’s and women’s track and field from 1988 to 2001 and remains head coach of cross country.
“He absolutely loves Williams and its past and present track teams,” Farwell said. “Since his return to Williams to work in the alumni office, he has given his time generously for many years as a volunteer with the Eph program, most notably with his coaching in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s, working principally with the high jumpers.”
One of those high jumpers, who set the indoor school record, was none other than Brad Behr ’92, Bob’s son.
“Bob’s record speaks volumes, and his dedication is most highly remembered and appreciated by many past Eph athletes,” Farwell said.