John Ulysses, first to reach 16-foot pole vault, dies at 85

Hans Feigenbaum was born in Berlin on July 14, 1937. His father, a German soldier, was killed during World War II. When Hans was 11 or 12 years old, his mother sent him to Miami to live with his aunt, who adopted him. He changed his given name to John and took the married name of an aunt, Uelses. Because he does not speak English, he started school in Miami in fourth grade. He later became a US citizen.

He was introduced to pole vaulting as a high school student. On the first day, he cleared 10 feet 6 inches. By the end of the season, he reached 13 feet and won the Florida High School Championship. Then came the Marines, and then, one year later, the University of Alabama. He said he left Alabama because he had no training; “All they cared about was football,” he said.

After transferring to LaSalle University in Philadelphia, he became the NCAA champion. He graduated in 1965. During the Vietnam War, he was a fighter pilot in the Navy, and in later years did vault training in high school.

The current pole vault world record holder is Armand “Mondo” Duplantes, 23, of Sweden. his current best mark, group this year, 20 feet 4 inches (recorded as 6.22 meters). Like most pole vaulters today, it uses a fiberglass pole.

In addition to his daughter, Mrs. Robertson, Ulises is survived by his wife Miki Ulises: brother Fred; Mark’s son. Two grandchildren and one granddaughter.

Weeks after the Uelses’ moment of glory at Madison Square Garden, John Glenn has orbited the Earth.

“He was the second Marine to go to space,” Uelses said Tell San Diego Union-Tribune. “I was the first.”

Frank Letsky, a longtime sports writer for The Times, died in 2018.