SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Theo Dunn, one of Cal Poly’s all-time basketball greats of the mid-1950s who once held four school records, died Friday, April 22, 2022.
Dunn was 87 years old.
Born on July 31, 1934, in Star City, Arkansas, Dunn moved to San Francisco with his family and competed in baseball, basketball, soccer, and track and field at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, earning All-Star honors. City in basketball. He then played basketball at City College of San Francisco before transferring to Cal Poly in 1955.
“I had an offer to play at Oregon State and I went there with (my coach) to check it out,” Dunn said in an interview with Mustang Daily in 2005. “It rained every day I was there. there and I thought I couldn’t walk around in wet shoes all day.
“I also got an offer from Arizona and when I went to check out the gym was nice, but it was 112 degrees there and I couldn’t stand the heat. I came to Cal Poly after that and the weather was ideal, so they set me up with a Grant A scholarship.”
He was a major factor in the position, using his 6-foot-6 frame to break four school records and twice earn All-California Collegiate Athletic Association honors.
His 442 points in the 1956-57 season inside Crandall Gym set a mark, as did his average of 19.2 points per game, his total of 156 field goals in a season and his 13 free throws in a single game.
In 1957-58, Dunn’s 293 rebounds led Ed Jorgensen’s team, highlighted by a 22-rebound effort against UC Santa Barbara. His 293 rebounds remain Cal Poly’s best single-season mark while his 22-rebound performance against the Gauchos is No. 2 in the record books.
His college career was interrupted by his service in the United States Army, where his hoop and volleyball skills on USO tours wowed crowds in Europe. He returned to the Mustangs in 1960-61, a year after his induction into the Gonzales, Calif., Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dunn was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.
Dunn graduated from Cal Poly in 1964 with a degree in printing and engineering (now in graphic communications). He served on the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee for many years as well as the Athletic Directors Circle.
“It was quite an honor,” Dunn told the Mustang Daily of his induction. “You have great athletes in there. My family enjoyed it and they still talk about it.
“I really liked coming to such a great academic university, where they had a philosophy, the learning-by-doing philosophy, that actually worked,” Dunn added.
Dunn retired from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in 1993 after 26 years of outstanding service, including 17 years as a tour guide for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
During his retirement, he participated in basketball for the Senior Olympics and took part in various club activities with Kiwanis and the Masons.
Benefits are pending.