John A. Wayt Jr., who co-founded the Atlanta Steeplechase event, died Feb. 26 of congestive heart failure in Alpharetta, Ga., according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was 82.
The Atlanta Steeplechase first was held in 1966 on land owned by the Wayt family. “It began as a backyard picnic with tailgating and socializing and all of that,” Wayt’s wife, Martha, told the Journal-Constitution. “Now, it’s really a major event.”
An Atlanta native, Wayt served as chairman of the Atlanta Steeplechase until earlier this decade. He was a member of the board of stewards of the National Steeplechase Association. He earned the F. Ambrose Clark Award from the NSA. The award is given to individuals who have done the most to promote, improve, and encourage the growth and welfare of steeplechasing.
Wayt also received a lifetime achievement award from the Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. This year’s Atlanta Steeplechase, scheduled for April 24, will be contested in Wayt’s honor.
In addition to his wife, Wayt’s survivors include two sons and two daughters.