Warren Blaney; Senior Olympics’ Founding Director
Warren Blaney, 96, founding director of the International Senior Olympics in Los Angeles. After participating in a San Diego track and field contest for senior citizens in 1968, Blaney expanded the idea to create a Senior Olympics in Los Angeles with the help of the Helms Foundation’s William Schroeder and such sponsors as The Times. As director from the program’s inception in 1970 until 1985, Blaney broadened eligibility, began including women and expanded events to include such activities as dance, handball and horseshoes. He touted the program as a way to show adults of all ages the importance of exercise for mental and physical health throughout one’s life and to share his own often-expressed philosophy that “the health of the nation begins with one individual.” His early Senior Olympics welcomed housewives and mechanics to compete with former Olympians Parry O’Brien, Steve Seymour and Buster Crabbe. As state and local governments jumped on the Senior Olympics bandwagon, Blaney stepped aside in 1985 and turned over administration to parks and recreation officials. Now called the U.S. National Senior Sports (still informally referred to as Senior Olympics), the American unit is headquartered in Baton Rouge, La. On Jan. 4 in Cherry Valley, Calif.