Norb Sander died unexpectedly on Friday, March 17, 2017. His funeral was yesterday, March 21, 2017 in Yonkers. I flew out to pay my respects and joined a full church, many still in shock over the loss of the very vital Norb Sander.
Dr. Norb Sander racing New York City Marathon in 1974, from the armorytrack.com
The celebration was thoughtful and a dear friend of Norb’s spoke, for five minutes about the parts of Norb’s life many did not know: how much Norb loved the Jesuits and his education, his lifelong love of French and all things from France, and his love of stories. He spoke of Norb’s lovely wife, Bridget Bennett Sander and four daughters, Eva Fitzgerald, Jessica, Emma and Phoebe Sander. He also spoke of Norb’s mother, Gertude Sander, all of 95, as an example of the modeling that Norb had growing up.
In the following story, Jeff Benjamin reached out to several of Norb’s contemporaries to remind us about his running beginnings and how the former NYC Marathon champion was part of the sport. Most of use know him from the Armory NYC, the”House that Norb built”. His legacy will be around for years to come, but right now, his friends, and loved ones are sad, shaken and torn on the loss of this humorous, story telling lovely man.
As Norb Sander might say, “Qu’elle histoire!”
To read his obituary in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/sports/norbert-sander-dead-nyc-marathon-winner.html?_r=0
To read our feature on Norbert Sander, please go to: https://www.runblogrun.com/2017/03/track-field-visionary-dr-norbert-sander-armory-savior-by-david-hunter.html
Norb Sander was One Helluva Runner Too!
By Jeff Benjamin
As the Runnning/Track and Field world reeled last week from the sudden passing of Norb Sander, tributes by the thousands have continually poured in. As mentioned countless times Sanders vision of saving the 168th St. Indoor Armory has resulted in a World-Class facility which, over almost the last quarter century, has and will continue to affect millions of kids in the future to come.
However, his huge contributions have possibly overshadowed the fact that Norb Sander was a helluva runner, competing on the top level from The the 1960’s through the 1970’s, and continuing to run until he passed away last week.
At Fordham University, Sander was part of the 4X 1-Mile Penn Relays record-setting team. A decade later, he would go in to win Marathons in New Orleans, Yonkers, and became the only (so far) NYC resident to ever win the NYC Marathon, when it was contested in Central Park.
Here are what some of his friends said of Norb, particularly during the pre-boom 1972 period when the runners were a very close-knit fraternity-
George Hirsch–Chairman of the NYRR
“I met Norb back in 1969 the year of my first race: Boston Marathon 1969. Norb was part of the elite NY group including Gary Muhrcke, Ted Corbitt and Vince Chiappetta. Back then all of our races were outside of Yankee Stadium on an out and back course so those of us midpackers saw the leaders several times during the longer races. Norb was often way up there, sometimes in the lead, and would always shout encouragement at us. I saw Norb at the running center on Thursday night and he was his usual full of life, spirited, jovial self. How good was he? Let’s just say this: 2:24 on the brutal hilly Yonkers Marathon course translates to at least 6-8 minutes faster on a flat Chicago-like course.”
Kathrine Switzer, who was the Female Champion at the 1974 NYC Marathon in the race Norb won, posted this tribute (used with permission)
Before his breakthrough into greatness in 1975 Bill Rodgers often competed with and against Norb, losing to him in the heat of the 1974 NYC Marathon–
“I remember Norb Sander ever so clearly..he was the kind of runner and marathoner who when he beat you did not rub it in..he was the kind of person who made the sport of Track and Field and Marathoning shine..Especially for all the kids in the Armory and the NYRR Programs..we all liked and respected Norb!!”
Perhaps the finest NYRR Marathoner of his era, Tom Fleming who won the NYC Marathon twice (1973 & 1975) also paid tribute-
“I’ve know Norbert since ’72, when he was competing for the Millrose AC. Norbert was a consistent and tough competitor for Joe Kleinerman’s road racing team. I think what I enjoyed the most about Norbert was his love for the sport of road racing and the desire to share the effort with his team and fellow competitors alike. He’d always invite me to join his group and be the first one to congratulate and give well wishes to others. As I said to my good friend Bill Rodgers when I found out about Norbert’s passing “We’ve lost a good one today … Hail to a Champion!”