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Former Washington State standout Bill Gaskins, a member of 1965 ‘Cardiac Kids,’ dies at 76

Former Washington State halfback Bill Gaskins hauls in a pass during a practice with the Cougars. Gaskins, a member of the mid-1960s “Cardiac Kids,” died on Thursday.  (Associated Press)

Bill Gaskins, an ex-Washington State defensive back and halfback who starred on Bert Clark’s 1965 “Cardiac Kids” team, has died at the age of 76.

A cause of death for Gaskins is unknown, but The Spokesman-Review learned he died at his home in Pullman. Gaskins is survived by his wife, Felicia, and his two children, Helen and William III – both of whom are also WSU graduates.

Before Gaskins accepted a scholarship at WSU to play football and run track, he was a standout halfback and defensive back at Spokane’s Lewis and Clark High.

Gaskins eventually made Pullman a permanent home, but not before a decorated career with the Cougars. He played from 1962-66 and was an All-AAWU Conference safety, in addition to being a second-team All-American. As a defensive back, Gaskins intercepted five passes as a senior, but he also served as a kick return specialist and occasionally as a running back.

In 1965, Gaskins was a member of the “Cardiac Kids” team that went 7-3 and earned its nickname because of a penchant for winning games by tight margins.

Gaskins, who also was a sprinter for WSU’s track and field team, earned the J. Fred Bohler Inspirational Award for his performance on the football field and returned to Pullman to complete his pharmacy degree after two years with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders.

In 1990, Gaskins was inducted into WSU’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Following his playing career, Gaskins managed to stay active in the game, spending 17 years as a Pac-10 football official and also working as a starter for WSU track and field events.

The Gaskinses moved back to Pullman in 1970 when Bill became the Director of the Pullman Regional Hospital Pharmacy and clinical pharmacy instructor in the College of Pharmacy.