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Feb. 26, 1923 - March 4, 2004

Dale Oren Thomas of Corvallis died Thursday at Corvallis Manor. He was 81.

He was born to Gerald and Fern Waffle Thomas in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He grew up on a farm and attended Cornell College in Cornell, Iowa, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He continued his education at Purdue University, earning a master's and a PhD.

He served in the Marine Navy Aircorp from 1943 t o1946.

Me married Nina G. Trump in 1948.

He was a winner of nine national wrestling championships and placed sixth in the freestyle wrestling competition in the 1956 Olympic Games. He was an associate professor at Oregon State University and served as the head wrestling coach for 34 years. During that time, he compiled a record 616-169-12 record, the most wins of any wrestling coach in NCAA history. He started the first youth wrestling program in the United States, and began cultural exchange wrestling programs for high school and collegiate level competitors with Japan, South Africa, countries in Europe and elsewhere. He founded the DD Wrestling Ranch in Harlan, where he lived for many years. He started the OSU Wrestling Endowment Fund and was a successful fundraiser for University.

He enjoyed traveling and maintaining his ranch in Harlan.

Survivors include his children, David of Minneapolis, Kenneth of Clarkston, Wash., Steven of Spokane, Wash., and Susan Thomas of Seattle; Nadine Ritchey, his companion of 25 years; siblings, Bill, Don and Mary Craft; and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife in 1972.

A service will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 14, at Gill Coliseum on the Oregon State University campus.

Memorial contributions can be made to the OSU Foundation/Gill Annex for Wrestling in care of McHenry Funeral Home, 206 N.W. Fifth St., Corvallis, OR 97330.

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