Man killed in Wichita crash was popular former teacher and coach

Truman Shinn
Truman Shinn Courtesy photo

An earlier version of this story had an incorrect location of the accident.

Truman Shinn was nicknamed the “Conway Comet.”

He claimed the 1951 state high school 440-yard dash championship for Conway Springs High School. His talent earned him a scholarship to the University of Wichita where, in 1955, he was captain of the track team before graduating and becoming a teacher at Pleasant Valley Junior High.

For the next four decades, he would be known as a beloved physical education instructor and track coach.

Mr. Shinn died Monday night in a traffic accident when the car he was driving crashed into the back of a semitrailer at the intersection of K-42 and Maize Road. He was 80 years old.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

“He had a passion for track and sports and loved to go to games and loved to watch his grandkids play,” said Brent Ebersole, Mr. Shinn’s son-in-law. “He was a true Shocker fan and had season tickets. He was always interested in people, his former students, former athletes and, of course, education.”

The collision occurred just after 9:30 p.m. at the intersection of K-42 and Maize Road, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Both vehicles were stopped at a red light in westbound lanes of K-42. When the light turned green, the 2007 Cadillac being driven by Mr. Shinn pulled forward and crashed into the back of the semi.

Mr. Shinn was killed and his 80-year-old wife, Carol, was seriously injured, according to the highway patrol. She was taken to Wesley Medical Center, where she was in fair condition on Tuesday.

The driver of the semi, 49-year-old Glen Hoefer of Haysville, was not injured in the collision.

The incident remains under investigation.

Mr. Shinn was born June 5, 1933, on farm west of Millerton in Sumner County. He attended the Millerton rural school through sixth grade, according Ebersole.

The Shinn family then moved to a farm near Conway Springs in August 1945. From there, he attended Conway Springs public school, participating in football, basketball and track. The football field in Conway Springs is named for his father, Theodore, who was a long-time school board member.

In 1951, the younger Shinn held the record at Conway Springs in the 880-, 220- and 440-yard runs. He was captain of the state champion track team.

In 1955, he graduated from the University of Wichita, the same year he married Carol Harrington.

He soon developed a reputation for producing good students and athletes.

“He was a tremendous track performer,” said friend and fellow coach Warren Ramsey. “He was very competitive, and he demanded a lot of junior high kids.”

Mr. Shinn was past president of the Wichita Area Track and Field Officials Association.

Ramsey recalls that while Mr. Shinn was teaching, he also was helping run the family farm of nearly 3,000 acres near Conway Springs.

“He would leave school after track or basketball practice and go down and farm until 1 or 2 in the morning,” Ramsey said. “He’d be so tired but yet come to school the next day eager to go.

“I did my student teaching under him, and when I graduated from Friends University, Pleasant Valley offered me a job. I am sure Truman had a lot to do with that.”

In 1987, when Mr. Shinn was interviewed by The Eagle, he said of teaching: ''My job is more than a job; it's my life.”

Mr. Shinn was a member of Conway Springs Presbyterian Church and the Masonic Lodge.