cox orlis
Orlis Cox
  • Instrumental in parks and recreation departments around the nation
  • Started the Ottawa Relays, the state’s oldest high school track meet
Cox, Orlis
Inducted 2009

Born: September 7, 1900 - Elk City, Kansas

Died: August 3, 1988 – Ottawa, Kansas.

Graduated: Elk City H.S., 1918; University of Kansas 1923.


A teacher and coach at Ottawa High School for forty years, from 1926 to 1966, Orlis Claude Cox was a pioneer in battling Civil Rights and integration during the depression era.  He organized the Ottawa Recreation Commission and became its first director in 1948.

Career Highlights

The Ottawa Recreation Commission was one of the first of its kind in the nation and became a model for communities throughout the Midwest.   Known for his uncompromising charity, at his own expense, Cox took his track team to Chicago in 1933 where they won the 880-yard relay against future Olympic star Jesse Owens and his Cleveland, Ohio, prep team.  Tough, fair, and disciplined, Cox “never raised his voice or cussed,” and was a giant in the parks and recreation community at Ottawa and throughout the nation.  Cox initiated the Ottawa Relays, the oldest high school relay in Kansas.   A youth softball and baseball complex in Ottawa is named in Cox’s honor.  He was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1976.


Click here to see Orlis' Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction speech

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Colbert has been a long-time benefactor for K-State's golf and Olympic sports teams and founded a celebrity golf tournament that has benefited the Wildcat programs. While a senior at Kansas State in 1964, Colbert finished second in the NCAA golf championships.