In April of 2017, the Barney Ewell Legacy Committee, in coordination with the McCaskey Alumni Association, launched Breaking Through: The Barney Ewell Project, an ongoing campaign to ensure that the legacy of Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s greatest athlete is never forgotten.
Henry Norwood (Barney) Ewell (1918-1996) emerged as a track and field prodigy while growing up in the City of Lancaster, earning recognition around the country as “another Jesse Owens.” A member of J.P. McCaskey High School’s inaugural class of 1938, he became the fastest man in the world while running for Penn State, breaking the world record for the 50-yard dash with a time of 5 seconds flat in 1940.
Though World War II suspended his Olympic aspirations, he surprised everyone at the 1948 Olympic trials, not only qualifying for the United States team but also tying the world record for the 100-meters dash with a time of 10.2 seconds. He went on to win the Olympic gold medal for the 4×100 meter relay and the silver for both the 100 and 200-meter dash at London’s Wembley Stadium later that summer.
The most recent event made possible by the Barney Ewell Project was the dedication of a Blue and Gold State Historical Marker for Barney on North Reservoir Street in front of J.P. McCaskey High School. The marker was dedicated on October 17, 2018.
Barney Ewell Week (February 17 – 25, 2018)
To ensure that this great Lancastrian’s legacy is never forgotten, the Barney Ewell Committee (including McCaskey graduates Art Morris ’63 and Ken Stoudt ’61) hosted a series of free events during the week leading up to Barney’s 100th birthday (February 25, 2018).
Saturday, February 17: Penn Square Visitor’s Center: In close proximity to one of his favorite locales, Central Market, Barney Ewell Week in Lancaster City was officially declared by Mayor Danene Sorace and information was distributed at the Visitor’s Center.
Tuesday, February 20: Lancaster Train Station: Legend has it that there were more friends gathered at the train station for Barney’s Olympic sendoff and triumphant return than had converged to greet President Franklin Roosevelt some years before. At the site of this massive gathering, participants heard remembrances, saw a new exhibit of Barney Ewell memorabilia, and witnessed an official proclamation of Barney Ewell Week in Lancaster County by Lancaster County Commissioners.
Tuesday, February 20: Corner of Green Street & Pershing Avenue, Lancaster: In his later years, Barney was honored for his service to Lancaster’s southeast where he lived his whole life. A newly installed sign was dedicated near his home of 30 years, commemorating his community roots.
Saturday, February 24: Conestoga Memorial Park Cemetery: Barney was a private and corporal in the U.S. Army during World War II and a participant in the first post-war Olympics. A wreath laying ceremony at his graveside highlighted his status as a hero who ushered the world out of a war-torn era.
Sunday, February 25: Barney Ewell’s Birthday Bash: J.P. McCaskey Gymnasium: A program including activities geared for children such as a bounce house and indoor racing was hosted by the Lancaster Recreation Commission. Cake and ice cream were served to celebrate Barney’s 100th birthday.