Gookinaid inventor Bill Gookin of San Diego dies at 86; ran distances into his 40s

Bill Gookin ran a masters race (for over-40s) at the 1973 San Diego Indoor Games. His first wife, Donna, is a W80 star.

Friday afternoon, I was decompressing after a busy week by checking Facebook. Then I came across a post by Olympian Ruth Wysocki, who replied to a sad note about the death of Bill Gookin, a San Diegan famed for inventing the Gookinaid fluid-replacement drink. I jumped into action, contacting Gookin’s first wife Donna (a masters track and LDR star) and Bill’s daughter Debra. I wrote several San Diego running gurus and did a ton of Googling for my story in Times of San Diego. I didn’t finish writing, tweaking and formatting until 5 a.m. I’m proud of the result. (I didn’t belabor the point, but Bill was a stud masters runner.)

If you don’t read the whole 2,200-word opus, check out the end:

Donna Gookin visited her former husband in his nursing home in recent months, encouraging him to exercise his legs. He stayed in a wheelchair.

Despite his dementia, he sometimes had moments of lucidity, Donna said.

“When we gave him Gookinaid, he’d kind of perk up and be all right,” she said. “But then he gave me that look: ‘I won’t be able to walk and run. And no use saying it.’ After that, he just wouldn’t eat or drink.”

On Facebook, Debra Gookin said: “During his last hours, he was breathing hard and intently, (reminding) me of when he was heading toward the finish line in a hotly contested race.”

Gookin is survived by his brother, Edwin Gookin, and his children, Jo Childs and Debra Gookin of San Diego, Mark Gookin of Reno, Nevada, and Karin Didisse of McCall, Idaho.

The family is planning a Celebration of Life. For details, write

Contribute to support independent track and field journalism:

About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at or Story tips always welcome!

Be the first to comment on "Gookinaid inventor Bill Gookin of San Diego dies at 86; ran distances into his 40s"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.