WALSH, (WALASIEWICZ), STELLA (STANISLAWA) (3 Apr. 1911-4 Dec. 1980), named the greatest woman athlete of the first half of the 20th century by the Helm Athletic Foundation (1951), was born in Wierzchownin, Poland, daughter of Julian and Veronica (Uninski) Walasiewicz. Brought to Cleveland when she was 10, Walsh attended South and Notre Dame high schools.  In 1926 she tied the women's record of 6 seconds for the 50-yard dash. By 1928, Walsh was prepared to represent the U.S. in the Olympics when it was discovered she had never become an American citizen. With naturalization nearly completed, Walsh was laid off from her job, but then offered employment by the Polish consulate if she would represent Poland in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. She did not become an American citizen until December of 1947. Representing Poland, Walsh won the 100-meter dash at the 1932 Olympic games, setting a world record. In the 1936 Olympic games, she finished in second. Still competing in her fifties, in 1967 Walsh won a 60-yard dash in 7.7 seconds, less than a half of a second slower then her 7.3 second world record time in 1934. She won over 5,000 track and field events during her career. In 1948 she founded the San Fernando Valley Women's Athletic Club. In the 1970s she coached the Polish Falcons (see SOKOL POLSKI) track club in Cleveland. Married for a short time to Harry Olson during the 1950s, Walsh used Walsh-Olson as her legal name thereafter. Walsh was shot to death in a parking lot during an attempted robbery on December 4, 1980. She was later buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.

A black and white photo of Stella Walsh with short, curly hair and a white coat kneeling in a sprinter's starting position
Western Reserve Historical Society
Stella Walsh in 1937.


Last Updated: 6/30/2022

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Stella Walsh Papers, WRHS.

View image at WHRS.

Anderson, Sheldon.  The Forgotten Legacy of Stella Walsh: The Greatest Female Athlete of Her Time,  2017.

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