In just 9.2 seconds on June 24, 1961, Francis Joseph "Frank" Budd proved himself the fastest man on earth.
Winning the gold medal in the 100-yard dash in the National AAU Championships at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island in New York, the Villanova junior took a tenth of a second off the world record that had been in the books for more than 14 years.
It was the singular moment in the celebrated career of the athlete who died at age 74 Tuesday night at Virtua Hospital in Marlton. In recent years, Mr. Budd had been slowed by the effects of multiple sclerosis and renal failure. He often got around in a motorized wheelchair but was forever remembered as the onetime "world's fastest human."
Mr. Budd was an Olympic sprinter as a Villanova sophomore (placing fifth in the 100-meter final at the 1960 Rome Games); a world-record dash man (at both 100 and 220 yards); and a three-time NCAA champion and seven-time IC4A winner as a star performer on coach Jumbo Elliott's powerful Wildcats teams. However, he was gone from track and field after his Villanova graduation in 1962.
He never played football in college but became an NFL wide receiver with the Eagles and the Washington Redskins. He also played for three years in the Canadian Football League.
At Villanova, the former star at Asbury Park (N.J.) High was honored as a member of the Wildcats' inaugural Wall of Fame. Mr. Budd was remembered by 'Nova track coach Marcus O'Sullivan as "a wonderful man and wonderful gentleman. He truly loved Villanova, the education and opportunities he got here and the friends he made, and Villanova truly loved him.
"In his last visit to the campus last winter, he was introduced at halftime of a basketball game, and the reception he got was unbelievable. In a matter of seconds, everybody in the building was standing and cheering. It was all spontaneous - and overwhelming."
Mr. Budd is survived by his wife, Barbara, and his children, Frank Jr. of Mount Laurel, Kimberly Arzillo of Willingboro, and Anitra Spreight of Acookeek, Md.; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday at St. Thomas Church on the Villanova campus, with the funeral service to follow.