Bill Squires, the legendary Greater Boston Track Club founding member and coach who helped Bill Rodgers win four Boston Marathons in the 1970s, died on Thursday, the Boston Athletic Association announced. He was 89.
A cause of death was not immediately known, but Squires had been in declining health recently and was in a rehab facility in Woburn at the time of his death.
Squires, who was from Arlington and also lived in Melrose, was an accomplished runner himself, a three-time All-American at Notre Dame whose specialty was the mile. He coached running greats such as Rodgers, who won the Boston Marathon in 1975 and three straight from 1978 to 1980, along with Alberto Salazar, Greg Meyer, Jack Fultz, and Bob Hodge.
“The Boston Athletic Association mourns the passing of the legendary coach and athlete Bill Squires, who died today, Thursday, June 30,” the BAA said in a statement posted to social media. “This is an immense loss for our running community. Bill was a cornerstone of the Boston running community and will be forever remembered for his passion and dedication to our sport.”
Squires was active in the Boston Marathon well into his 80s. He assisted with the elite athletes who competed at the Boston Marathon, often speaking to them about the course itself, about the city, and about the trials and tribulations of race day. He would give elite runners personal tours of the Boston Marathon route to help them prepare for competition, said Jack Fleming, the interim CEO of the BAA.
“His spirit will live on within each of us who had the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom and guidance. His greatest gift was bringing together and inspiring athletes and teams to strive for excellence in a way that few coaches could,” the BAA statement continued. “From his time with the BAA to the Greater Boston Track Club and beyond, Coach Squires leaves a legacy that brought our sport to new heights and recognition. To his family and friends, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
In 2002, Squires received the Bill Bowerman Coaching Award from the National Distance Running Hall of Fame for dedication to the sport and his athletes.
Squires was instrumental in the creation of the Greater Boston Track Club, which rose to prominence in 1975 when Rodgers, wearing a homemade t-shirt with “GBTC” written on it, won the Boston Marathon in a then-American record time of 2:09.55. The club produced runner after runner who competed at the sport’s highest levels.
“Bill Squires not only coached the Greater Boston Track Club to become one of the best – if not the best track club in the USA – but he also encouraged the athletes to be sure to do all they can to pursue their careers,” Rodgers told the National Distance Running Hall of Fame after Squires was honored in 2002.
Squires also coached at Boston State College and UMass Boston, and for the US national teams. He was known for his training simulators, including one that replicated the challenges of the Boston Marathon’s famous Heartbreak Hill.
In the foreword to Boston-area author Paul Clerici’s book about Squires, “Born to Coach,” runner Dick Beardsley had the highest praise for Squires.
“Coach Squires is one of the most giving people I’ve ever met, and in my opinion the best distance coach in the world ” Beardsley wrote. “He knows his athletes and cares for them dearly.”