Michigan Legend Newt Loken Passes Away

Submitted by Raoul on June 29th, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Newt Loken, the "father of Michigan men's gymnastics," died at age 92 yesterday. Dave Brandon has a blog item about this Michigan legend (Newt Loken is Michigan Men's Gymnastics) that starts out with this:

In Michigan athletic lore, certain names are immediately identifiable with the sport. Red Berenson is hockey, Cazzie Russell is basketball, Matt Mann is swimming, Cliff Keen is wrestling, Carol Hutchins is softball and in football, there are Bo, Fritz, Fielding, etc.

In men's gymnastics, it is Newt Loken. This morning, we learned that Newt passed away in Eugene, Ore., at the age of 92.

And here's the mgoblue.com press release:

Michigan Legend Newt Loken Passes Away

June 29, 2011

Photo Gallery

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Long-time University of Michigan men's gymnastics coach Newt Loken passed away Tuesday (June 28) of natural causes in Eugene, Ore. Loken was 92 years old at the time of his death.

Loken was the head coach for the Wolverines' gymnastics program for 36 seasons (1948-83). He compiled an impressive 240-71-1 (.771) record during his career, including 12 Big Ten Conference championships. Loken coached 69 individual conference champions during his tenure.

On the national stage, Loken led U-M to the NCAA Championships in 21 of his 36 seasons at the helm. His teams claimed four national championships, winning the team title in 1963 and 1970 and claiming trampoline championships in 1969 and 1970. Loken also tutored 20 individual national champions.

The men's gymnastics training center was named and dedicated in honor of Newt Loken on Jan. 18, 2003.

The family is planning a memorial service for Loken in Ann Arbor later this summer.

Following are comments from Michigan Athletic Officials...

Kurt Golder, Michigan Head Men's Gymnastics Coach
"Newt was a wonderful individual and he lived a long and full life. His impact and influence on everyone he met was truly a gift. I was fortunate enough to not only be mentored by him as a student-athlete but as a coach as well. There are many of his principles I still use today. Newt will be missed by many, but he will always be remembered. He will forever be the father of Michigan men's gymnastics."

Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director
"Newt was an iconic figure in the sport of gymnastics and in our athletic department lore. He will be remembered as an individual with great integrity and always a great attitude. Our University and the sport of gymnastics has lost a great coach and ambassador."

Media Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423



June 29th, 2011 at 8:57 PM ^

A brief annarbor.com item on Loken's death includes a video with the following intro:

Last year, the Michigan gymnastics program posted the following excerpt from a 1995 documentary by Royce Toni on YouTube. In it, Loken chronicles his first years with the Michigan program.


June 29th, 2011 at 9:11 PM ^

Another great Michigan man passes away. It's really sad how many RIP posts have been on the board lately. This can't go on forever.

I hope your happy wherever you are Mr. Loken...


June 29th, 2011 at 11:11 PM ^

I always remember Newt from homecoming when he would lead the alumni cheerleaders in various old school type cheers, he was an old guy even then and had so much energy he would get the crowd got into it. He would also sometimes be one of the warm-up speakers at pep rallys before Bo came out. He was a part of the atmosphere on football Saturdays.

God's speed Newt.

Julius 1977

June 29th, 2011 at 11:12 PM ^

Once, as a junior, I was doing my laundry in a laundromat on Packard Street and in walks Newt Loken with a couple of gymnastics team members.  They have the trampoline beds and are going to wash them.  It was pretty late at night and Newt was still a bundle of energy.  Always upbeat and smiling.  Talking a lot.  For some reason I vividly remember that.

At all of the homecoming games he led the all-male cheerleading squad.  He had this goofy cheer where he would pull the cork off a big bottle and everyone would cheer.  As soon as he put the cork in - silence.  Somehow that was really funny.

He was part of THOSE days.  Bo. Don Canham as AD.  Robben Fleming as President.  Even Rob Lytle; who was in one of my classes.  All have passed away. 

It was sure fun hating old Woody.

Those days were the awesome old days. 


June 30th, 2011 at 9:40 AM ^

I remember him from the Huron Valley Swim Club and as a cheerleader at all of the homecoming games.  He might not have been as well known as Ufer, Bo and some of the other icons but he was an enthusiastic upbeat Michigan supporter and will be missed.

Marc 71

June 30th, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

Newt was a real dynamo.  More energy then any of the team.  I was on the gymnastics team in '67-'68 and enjoyed his coaching.  He was really quite a character...in a good way.