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Olympic gold medalist Glen Brand dies at 85

Olympic gold medalist Glen Brand dies at 85
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling

It’s been more than 60 years since Glen Brand won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling, but Brand never stopped giving back to the sport he loved.

Brand, who captured the 174-pound title at the 1948 Olympics in London, England, passed away on Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska. He was 85 years old.

Brand, who grew up in Clarion, Iowa, served in World War II for the U.S. Marine Corps before enrolling at Iowa State University. He won a NCAA title for Iowa State in 1948 and followed by winning the Olympics later that year.

Brand was honored in 1978 as a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

In his professional career as a hydraulics engineer, Brand built a highly successful company in Omaha. His company, Brand Hydraulics, was founded in 1956. It continues to thrive under the direction of his son, Greg Brand.

“Glen Brand was one of the true heroes in American wrestling history,? said Mike Chapman, executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum. “I just thought the world of Glen. He’s done it all. He was highly successful in every phase of his life. He lived a very full life right up until the end.?

Brand has been a regular during Honors Weekend at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

“Glen Brand is an American legend because of what he achieved and what he gave to his country as a wrestler, soldier, engineer, and philanthropist,? said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “On behalf of our Board of Governors and staff of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the family members of this humble man who left us with so much to praise and honor him for.?

Brand was a significant contributor to the Dan Gable International Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa. A hall of fame wing there is named in his honor.

Brand also was heavily involved with the wrestling program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Two tournaments run by UNO – the Kaufman-Brand Open and the Glen Brand Open – are named after him.

The Kaufman-Brand Open, the largest single-day college tournament in the country, will be held this Saturday. UNO coach Mike Denney said Brand will be honored and remembered on Saturday.

“Glen just had so much fire, and he had such a passion for wrestling,? Denney said. “He loved wrestling and he gave a lot back to the sport. He’s been so good to us over the years. He’s helped us so much with both of our tournaments that are named after him. He always played in our golf tournament. He contributed a lot to our program. Every chance I could, I would have him talk to our team. He would tell the story about how he won the Olympics. Our guys loved hearing that story. It was very inspiring.?

Brand was the first of five Iowa State University wrestlers to win an Olympic gold medal. The other four are Dan Gable, Ben Peterson, Kevin Jackson and Cael Sanderson.

“Glen was a real interesting fellow,? Chapman said. “He really did care about the sport and felt very strongly that wrestling did prepare you for success in life. I think Glen was definitely proof of that.?

An excerpt from the program for his final match at Iowa State sums up Brand’s stature as a competitor: "There's more to Glen Brand than his wrestling. He's a true amateur, a gentleman who respects his opponent, but who brooks no interference with his right to rule on the mat."

Glen Brand obituary from the Omaha World-Herald

BRAND-Glen, age 85. Preceded in death by wife, Mary Lou Brand. Survived by wife, Ruth Brand; son, Greg Brand; step-children, Debra Huebscher, Pamela Graskowiak, David Rader, Duane Rader, Bryan Rader; grandchildren, Adam and Jackie Graskowiak, Andrew Rader; sister-in-law, Judy Davidson; host of friends.

Funeral Service Wed. 10 a.m., 108th Street Chapel, Omaha. Interment Evergreen Memorial Park. Visitation Tues. 6-8 p.m. at Mortuary. Memorials to National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Stillwater, OK; Roeder Mortuary, 2727 North 108th St., Omaha, NE 68164, 402-496-9000