Wendell Rollins, an Olympian (and Distant Relative)

Peloton at 1948 Summer Olympics

When I have reached a dead-end while researching my family's roots, one of my last steps is to simply google the person's name.  When I first started exploring, this technique led me to an online genealogy of a distant relative in Sweden which filled in a great deal of the family beyond Great Grandpa Olof's voyage across the Atlantic.  On a few occasions, it has surprised me with some amazing facts about my family members.

The Rollins family was connected to the Page family in 1701 when Stephen Page married Mary Rawlins.  One of the branches of the Rollins family were Mormon pioneers, traveling from Maine to Utah.  The leader of the clan, Enoch Perham Rollins, had a great-grandson Wendell LeRoy Rollins.  Wendell was born, lived, died, and was buried in Utah.  He was a brick mason, and served in the U.S. Army in World War II, possibly in the Philippines, reaching the rank of sergeant.

But the surprise was that he was also an Olympic athlete.  At the time, it was unusual for a cyclist from an area other than New Jersey, California, or St. Louis to acheive any notoriety, but Wendell was good enough to find a spot on a New York-based cycling club, and eventually a spot on the 1948 Summer Olympic Team.  He traveled to London for the games, and participated in the men's individual and team road races.  None of the U.S. cyclists finished the course--only 28 of the 101 starters successfully finished the race.