Erma Lawlor was her husband’s biggest fan. When the University honored him on May 26, 1972, she presented him with a scrapbook she’d compiled to capture both personal and career memories. Items continued to be added to the scrapbook until 1993. After a sojourn with the University of Nevada Athletics Department, the Jake Lawlor Scrapbook has arrived in University Archives, where it will be preserved as a treasure trove of the University’s sports history for future generations.
Glenn Joseph “Jake” Lawlor was born in Victor, Iowa, on July 27, 1907. He came to the University of Nevada in 1926, earning a B.A. degree in 1930. While a Nevada student, he lettered in basketball and football. He played baseball for McGill while still in college and later for the Fallon Town Club. Upon graduation, he signed with San Francisco and then Sacramento as a professional baseball player in the Pacific Coast League.
He was a teacher and basketball coach at Virginia City High School from 1932-1937 and then at the Delano Joint Union High School in Delano, California, from 1938-1942. In 1942, he returned to the University of Nevada as head basketball coach and football line coach. Through the years, he also coached baseball, golf, tennis, and varsity track. In April 1959, he became Director of Athletics while continuing to coach baseball. Lawlor holds the record as the University’s winningest basketball coach, with 204 victories during his career. During the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, he served as an official timer.
The scrapbook contains family and career photographs, including many photos of Wolf Pack athletes and coaches, along with game programs, telegrams sent to Lawlor about games, newspaper clippings, and various certificates. There are several letters to Lawlor from various University Presidents offering either congratulations or commiseration over the outcomes of key athletic competitions. Governor Mike O’Callaghan’s proclamation for May 26, 1972, to be Jake Lawlor Day in Nevada is also in the scrapbook.
In the spring of 1980, he received the Distinguished Nevadan Award and participated in the Golden Reunion of the Class of 1930. He died in Reno on July 11, 1980. In 1983, the Lawlor Events Center was named in his honor.
In 1971, Mary Ellen Glass interviewed Lawlor under the auspices of the University’s Oral History Project. The transcription of “Oral Autobiography of an Iowa Native: With a Close-up View of Nevada Athletics, 1926-1971,” is available in Special Collections: GV 691 .N3 L3 and online.
Jake Lawlor’s Scrapbook is a priceless accompaniment to his oral history.