Patrick Traynor, 67, of Perkasie, a clinical psychologist and former track star who was an all-American steeplechase champion at Villanova University, died at home Saturday from apparent heart failure.
Mr. Traynor grew up in Havertown. He signed up for the track team at Monsignor Bonner High School to get in shape for basketball, his first love, his son Patrick Jr. said.
Mr. Traynor played both sports at Bonner, and was Catholic League cross-country and mile champion. After graduating from Bonner in 1959, he moved on to Villanova to run for famed coach Jumbo Elliott.
Elliott determined the 6-foot-2 athlete's strengths. "Traynor can't run very well indoors," he told a reporter in 1962. "He's like a big elephant, flopping around on the track."
Outdoors, though, Elliott said, Mr. Traynor could run anything from a mile on up, and the coach made him a steeplechaser. The event requires running and jumping hurdles and into puddles of water for nearly two miles.
In 1962, Mr. Traynor was voted most outstanding male college athlete at the Penn Relays, in which he won two long-distance races and came in second in the steeplechase to Deacon Jones, a former Olympian.
Mr. Traynor was an NCAA all-American in the steeplechase in 1961 and 1962, and won the national AAU steeplechase championship in 1962 and 1963. He also won the AAU's 10,000-meter cross-country championship in 1963.
"I never saw a kid with more determination," Villanova trainer Jake Nevin told a reporter in 1962. "Tell Pat to take it easy, and he says, 'No, I want to work out twice today.' You find guys who are big stars who don't work half as hard."
Mr. Traynor once told a reporter that he had read Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. "The guy in it was a nut," he said, "and all of us have some of him in us."
After graduating with a history degree from Villanova in 1963, Mr. Traynor ran competitively while teaching at Sayre Junior High School in Philadelphia. In 1964, he qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo, but came down with a case of food poisoning at the trials and was chosen as an alternate.
From 1965 to '69, Mr. Traynor served in the Air Force and competed with the track team. He hoped to run the steeplechase at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, but did poorly in high-altitude trials in Lake Tahoe. While competing as a member of the National Track and Field team that year, he ran a mile in just under four minutes (3:59.6).
After his discharge from the service, he returned to teaching and then counseled families and patients at health centers in Philadelphia for 30 years. At the time of his death, he was head administrator at the New Life Clinic, an outpatient mental-health facility in Northeast Philadelphia.
Mr. Traynor was a member of the Monsignor Bonner Hall of Fame and the Villanova University Varsity Club Hall of Fame. He attended the annual Penn Relays and was a fan of Villanova basketball and track and field.
He also enjoyed painting landscapes, Irish music, and spending time with his grandchildren, his son said.
In addition to his son, Mr. Traynor is survived by daughters Tara Cook, Emily and Bridget; sons Keith and Joseph; a brother; a sister; seven grandchildren; and his former wife, Lisa Klausner. Former wife Barbara Regan Traynor died in 1980.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today at St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the Villanova campus. Friends may call at 10 a.m.