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HAMPTON, Gerald Elmer "Jerry"


Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 1/16/2016 at 00:03:55

Biography of Gerald Elmer "Jerry" Hampton
Graceland University, Lamoni, Iowa

Gerald Elmer "Jerry" Hampton was born on July 24, 1932, in Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the most versatile coaches in Yellowjackets athletics, Jerry Hampton began his Graceland sports career as a student in 1950. He earned all-state honors in football as a Yellowjacket quarterback and also lettered in track, basketball and tennis.

Coach Hampton earned his associate's degree in 1952 at Graceland and finished his B.A. degree in physical education at William Jewell College in 1954. He attended New Mexico University before completing his M.S. in physical eductaion at Northwest Missouri State University in 1959. He later obtained his Ed.D. from Columbia University Teachers College in 1970. Coach Hampton also served two years in the United States Army.

From 1956 to 1960, Coach Hampton taught and coached at the high school level. He joined Graceland's faculty in 1960, eventually becoming chairman of the Division of Health and Education and served as coordinator for the college's P.E. department.

He became coach of the the college's wrestling team in 1960-61, its fourthe varsity season. Coach Hampton continued to lead the program until it ended in 1982. During those 22 seasons, Graceland amassed a 238-87 record in dual competitions and never lost a conference championship. Coach Hampton earned conference coach of the year honors for wrestling and tennis, which he began coaching in 1982. His Graceland coaching career also included periods with football, golf and cross country.

Off campus, Coach Hampton served as president of the NAIA National Wrestling Coaches Association during 1981-82. Students also became acquating with Coach Hampton through more casual venues. During the 1970's, he joined fellow employees Charles Emslie, Dennis Steele and Ray Adams as a quartet called "The Unpredictables." In 1972, he and his wife Helen, a 1965-84 member of the physical education department, opened the popular Pizza Shack restaurant in Lamoni. They also opened the Country Plus gift store in 1978.

Coach Hampton was named to the Yellowjacket Hall of Fame in 1986.

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Horizons, Graceland University, Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa

Vol. 26, No. 3, Pp. 2-3. Winter 2010.

Helen Russell and Graceland: The Two Great Loves of Jerry Hampton

It has been a year to celebrate the mutual love affair Jerry Hampton and Graceland University have shared for 60 years. His friends, family, colleagues and students have remembered good times with him, honored his legacy, played their hearts out for him and Graceland, and named a building after him.

It has been a year to reflect on Jerry’s 50 years of teaching and coaching at Graceland, the most in university history. A time to note his 60th year on “the Hill,” since his freshman year, when he met the two great loves of his life: a young lady from Maine named Helen Russell, and Graceland. Dr. Gerald ‘Jerry’ Hampton ’52 was honored with Professor Emeritus status in May when he retired from teaching. He continues to coach our Women’s and Men’s Tennis teams. Both teams excelled this year, by the way, as they have so often in the past.

We could fill this issue of Horizons with Jerry’s story, with lists of courses Jerry has taught and the records his teams have compiled. Here is a greatly-condensed version. Professor Hampton was always popular with his students because of his sincere interest in their lives. He recruited athletes to first be students, and then players. He taught nearly every subject in what is now the Health and Movement Science Division. He served as division coordinator for more than 20 years and steered development of new academic majors along the way. His work on numerous committees was tireless. He coached wrestling for 22 years, football for 25 years and has coached tennis for 33 years. His wrestling teams were never defeated in conference dual meets or tournaments. You read that right – never defeated. They won 22 of 22 HAAC championships. His tennis teams have won 19 HAAC titles and he has been Coach of the Year 19 times. He also coached golf, track and cross country. He was inducted into the Graceland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986. Whew!

Remember the TV show Everyone Loves Raymond?

Well, at Homecoming 2010 it was obvious that ‘Everyone Loves Jerry’ too. He was hugged and congratulated all weekend. A large crowd gathered on a brisk, October Saturday morning to honor Jerry by naming the newlyrenovated Health and Movement Science athletic offices the ‘Hampton Center.’ Jerry’s family, known as ‘Team Hampton,’ and other friends and alumni, provided funds for the extensive renovations. His wonderful children and grandchildren were on hand for a poignant dedication ceremony that at times brought Jerry to tears. He was not alone. There was a lot of laughter, too, and he certainly was not alone in that.

Former student, colleague and friend Ed Gensler ’70 joined Jerry’s children, Jon ’88, Michelle ’83 Waite, Kim ’80 Johnson and Bobbie ’78 Kuehl, in a mini festival of memories. They talked about “growing up Graceland,” and how their lives were enriched by Jerry's love of family and thier own love for a wonderful dad and mom, and for Graceland.

Longtime friend and colleague Tom Nowlin ’60 eloquently noted the Hampton Center naming by thanking Graceland for “…allowing the spirit of memories to find a place on ‘the Hill.’” And, Del Ranney ’52, Jerry’s college roommate and best friend, delivered a stirring prayer, thanking the Lord for listening to Jerry in 1952 when he said he wanted to someday teach at Graceland. Del added, “We now hear your voice Lord, saying ‘Well done.’” President John Sellars, who officiated, called the Hampton Center “a tribute to a remarkable partnership spanning more than half the university’s existence.”

At the podium, Jerry looked out over the crowd and thanked “all of you who have made my life so much richer.” He said he was always “a teacher first, and then a coach,” and a hundred heads bobbed in agreement. “I can’t remember a day that Graceland was not in my life,” he said. “In our lives, Helen and mine.”

It was a truly great morning in Graceland history. Horizons caught up with Jerry later in the fall to learn a few details to share with readers. We talked about a lot of subjects but the conversation kept coming back to a “beautiful girl” he spotted walking down the stairs of Walker Hall in 1952. “She wore a white sweater and a red scarf,” he said, his eyes wandering away to the past. “She was such a classy lady.” For a while he admired her from afar. She was a cheerleader, president of the Crescents, GU’s Drake Relays Queen candidate. “What would she see in me,” he chuckled. “I was a hick from a Missouri farm.” Finally though, they shared an afternoon, relaxing on a blanket over by the golf course, listening to a baseball game on the radio. “Well, I didn’t have any money,” he laughed.

Money or not, a great love affair began. They were married in 1953 and spent 44 years together. Jerry returned to teach and coach at GU in 1960. Helen taught aquatics and synchronized swimming here for 17 years. It was in 1994 that she became ill with cancer. That’s when Team Hampton was born. Always a family who deeply loved each other, the Hampton clan clinched their fists and fought back against the cancer, as a team. The battle ended in 1997. That story alone would make a very powerful book!

Jerry’s family has owned and operated the Pizza Shack in Lamoni since 1972. “Helen was the business person,” he says. “She dragged me kicking and screaming into the Pizza Shack.” She also ran the popular Hallmark gift shop ‘Country Plus’ for many years.

Jerry counts his love for Helen, and “my wonderful children,” as the “greatest joys of my life.”

They raised their children in the lovely home they built on South Cherry. You should have seen the cars lining the streets of the neighborhood for an open house for Jerry the Saturday evening of Homecoming. Just across the street, mounted on a rock at Founder’s Lake, is a plaque remembering Helen Russell ’52 Hampton. Jerry can be seen sitting on the bench sometimes in the evening, perhaps thinking of that girl in the white sweater and red scarf.

There is so much more to say about Jerry. We really could fill the magazine. It will have to suffice for now to say, thank you Jerry for sharing with all of us one of the great love affairs of your life – your love for Graceland.

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Yellowjacket News ~ Tennis, Graceland University, Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yellowjacket Legend Calls It A Day

Lamoni, IA - Over 60 years ago Graceland legend and Head men's and women's tennis coach Jerry Hampton set foot on Graceland's campus.

What ensued over the next 60 + years is nothing short of amazing. Following his men's tennis teams' sixth straight (and tenth in the last twelve years) national tournament appearance last week in Mobile, Alabama Coach Hampton quietly walked away from coaching announcing to his team after its second round loss to Azusa Pacific. What happened during that 60 years however, was far from quiet.

Coach Hampton was always popular with his students because of his sincere interest in their lives. He recruited athletes to first be students, and then players. He taught nearly every subject in what is now the Health and Movement Science Division. He served as division coordinator for more than 20 years and steered development of new academic majors along the way. His work on numerous committees was tireless.

Coach Hampton says looking back now the decision to coach and teach was an easy one.

"I was influenced to go into coaching by my high school and college coaches and the choice I made was one of the best of my lifetime," said a nostalgic Hampton about his resignation. "Unless someone has coached a team, they wouldn't understand what my career has meant to me personally. I've truly looked forward to coming to Graceland every day and have never considered it work. What I will miss the most is the close associations that coaches create with student-athletes both while they're playing and once they head out into the real world. Spending over half my life at a place I love is something I'll cherish forever. I've always said if I had to live my life over again, I wouldn't change a thing," concluded Hampton.

Graceland AD Jeff Falkner was on hand in Mobile when Coach Hampton made the announcement he would be stepping down. "I still really can't believe it," said Falkner about the Hampton resignation. "Part of me wants to be happy for him and the other part of me wants to still try and talk him out of it."

"Jerry has done so much for Graceland and the many students who had the privilege of calling him coach. Someone else will coach our tennis teams next season but nobody will replace Jerry Hampton," finished Falkner.

Several of Coach Hampton's current and former athletes had wonderful things to say about what he has meant to them both while at Graceland and since they've moved on. "Jerry has always been a second father to me," said Ed Gensler ('70) former Graceland wrestler. "There are too many things to name that he has done for me. He's been a mentor, a coach and I'm proud to say a friend. He married my wife Gayle (Levitt '73) and me 40 years ago and helped take care of my children while they were at Graceland. It's hard for me to comprehend Graceland without Jerry Hampton," finished Gensler.

Graduating senior Jeremy Ackerer (Connunay, France) commented on the impact that Coach Hampton had on him both as a collegiate player and person.

"Coach Hampton has meant so much to so many of us. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to play tennis in the states if it wasn't for him," continued a stoic Ackerer. "What really made him special to me had nothing to do with what kind of tennis coach he is. What sets Coach Hampton apart is the type of person he is and how he treats those around him," finished Ackerer.

Jerry coached wrestling for 22 years, football for 25 years and has coached tennis for 34 years. His wrestling teams were never defeated in conference dual meets or tournaments. They won 22 of 22 HAAC championships. His tennis teams have won 20 HAAC titles and he has been Coach of the Year 20 times. He also coached golf, track and cross country. He was inducted into the Graceland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986.

Jerry's Men's and Women's tennis teams became one of the strongest small college tennis programs in the Heart of America Conference. Jerry led the Yellowjackets to the Men’s HACC Championship for the twelfth time and the Women’s team completed one of their best seasons as they steadily improve. Jerry has received HACC Coach of the year 12 times and Regional coach of the year 2 times in the three years it has been in existence.

Coach Hampton has also served as the Head Coach of the Graceland Football & Wrestling Teams, and represented the United States of America as a Team Leader for NAIA/AAU wrestlers on a trip to Japan and Korea.

His 12 HAAC titles are the most of any coach in Yellowjacket history. His 2002 Men’s Team won a record 18 matches, including the conference and Regional titles and advanced to the NAIA National Tournament during the spring 2002 season.

Since he took over the Graceland tennis program, Hampton has led the Men’s team to a 192-84 record.

Hampton’s Men’s Team have garnered 12 HAAC Championships and 2 0f the 3 Regional Championships and numerous team and individual appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. The Graceland Yellowjackets are usually ranked in the top twenty teams in the NAIA.

Over that same period of time the Women’s Team has put together a record of 113 wins and 160 losses. They have won 2 HACC Championships, one reional championship and 2 appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. The Women’s team has been making rapid improvement in the last few years. Coach Hampton’s goal is to bring the Graceland University women’s tennis team up to the premier status of the men’s team.

~ ~ ~ ~

Graceland University
Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa
News Archive, July 08, 2015

Graceland Legend Jerry Hampton Receives
Lifetime Presidential Volunteer Service Award

Jerry Hampton received the Lifetime Presidential Volunteer Service Award for more than 10,000 hours of service to his community, at a surprise reception on Saturday, June 27, at Graceland University. Surrounded by over 50 family members and friends, a modest Hampton listened to Jesse Bollinger, Director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Graceland University’s Affiliate Relations department, describe his contributions.

“For over a half century, Jerry has stepped forward and offered his services to so many organizations and people locally and regionally,” Bollinger said. “Just a few examples include Hospice of Central Iowa, Des Moines Festival of Trees, pastoral care for prisoners, church activities, RSVP and the John Stoddard Cancer Center. His impact on students, the community and the lives he has touched are a true legacy of service.”

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is offered in multiple levels and is designed to recognize each milestone of service achievement. Levels include bronze, silver, gold and the highest honor, the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for those who contribute more than 4,000 hours of service in their lifetime. Along with the honor of presidential recognition, recipients receive a personalized certificate, an official pin, medallion or coin, and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States.

Hampton attended Graceland University in the 1950s, returning as a member of the faculty in 1960. Over the years, he has been a fixture on the sidelines of the many sports he has coached. In addition to those sidelines, he also made his mark in the classroom with his students. “Even students who weren’t on one of his teams or in his class felt his positive influence,” Bollinger said. “And, of course, Jerry’s Pizza Shack became the place for students to socialize and make memories, and for alums to return to share those memories whenever they come back to Graceland.”

“Because Jerry does not seek recognition for what he does, I know he would want this message to be one that encourages others to take action, get involved and help out,” added Greg Sutherland, Graceland University's Executive Director of Affiliate Relations. “At the same time, Jerry’s efforts set him apart from his peers. Receiving this award is a tremendous honor — an honor well earned.”


Goehner, David. “The Graceland College Book of Knowledge: From A To Z.” Pp. 411-12. Herald House. Independence MO. 1997.

Horizons. Graceland Universtity. Lamoni IA.

Graceland University news release, July 8, 2015.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2016


Decatur Biographies maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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