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Norbert Sander Of Westchester, Champion Runner, Pioneer, Dies At 74

Dr. Norbert W. Sander Jr., a Yonkers native and Hastings-on-Hudson resident, was a pioneer in the running world. He died on St. Patrick's Day after an apparent heart attack at 74.
Dr. Norbert W. Sander Jr., a Yonkers native and Hastings-on-Hudson resident, was a pioneer in the running world. He died on St. Patrick's Day after an apparent heart attack at 74. Photo Credit: fordhamprep.org

Dr. Norbert W. Sander Jr., of Hastings-on-Hudson, died on St. Patrick’s Day of a heart attack.

He was stricken at home Friday and taken to a hospital in Yonkers, his hometown, where he was pronounced dead, multiple media reports said.

The winner of the 1974 New York City Marathon – the only New Yorker to do so -- was 74.

He attended Sacred Heart Grammar School in the Capuchin Franciscan parish in Yonkers , Fordham Prep, Fordham College, the University of Lausanne, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Sander, affectionately called “Norb” or “Doc,” was the driving force behind the creation of The Armory Foundation.

Under his guidance, the former homeless shelter became a world-class track and field facility for New York City youth and the Washington Heights community. More than 125,000 young people reportedly compete there, and 500,000 people visit it, each year.

The Armory Foundation houses the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Charles B. Rangel Learning and Technology Center.

Because of all the people it attracts, it has helped boost businesses in the neighborhood, according to nyc.gov.

According to fordhamprep.com, The Armory had been the city's top arena for indoor track from 1910 to the miid-1980s. It was in sad shape when it was turned into a shelter for thousands of men, fordhamprep.com said.

Sander ran on The Armory's original wooden track when he was attending Fordham Prep and Fordham College, fordhamprep.com said.

According to fordhamprep.org, he was a Greek Honors student, a member of the "historic" 1958 and 1959 cross-country teams that took City Championships

After graduating from Fordham in 1964, Sander ran for the Gaelic-American Athletic Club, The New York Times reported.

He practiced medicine for more than four decades in Manhattan and on City Island, known as the "Seaport of the Bronx." He was the model of a “compassionate healer and faithful advocate,” his family said.

An accomplished cross-country runner in college, Sander was at the forefront of those who embraced the sport long before it caught on in the 1970s, according to The New York Times.

He was the winner of a title at the Penn Relays championship in 1963, the Times said.

According to runnersworld.com, Sander finished 34th in the 1968 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Alamosa, Colo. In 1973, he.won the Yonkers Marathon and set his personal best in New York, 2:23:38. In 1974, he won the Mardi Gras (New Orleans) Marathon.and New York City Marathon in September.

In 1979, Sander ran 2:24:36 in the Nike OTC Marathon in Eugene, Ore., runnersworld.com said.

Sander, an internist, specialized in family and sports medicine and was a member of the board of the group that organizes the New York City Marathon, New York Road Runners, the Times reported.

According to letsrun.com, Sander was the recipient of the 2014 Abebe Bikila Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport of Running and the 2016 recipient of the City & State Reports Outstanding Achievement in Community Development Award.

Sander is survived by his wife, Bridget (Bennett); mother, the former Gertrude (Carroll); sister Carroll Sivco (Peter); four daughters, Eva, Jessica, Emma, and Phoebe; and two grandchildren, Catherine and Kiera.

He was predeceased by his father, Norbert W. Sander, and brother, John Gerard.

Visiting hours are 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Monday, March 20, at the Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home, 64 Ashford Ave., Dobbs Ferry.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 21, at Sacred Heart Church, 110 Shonnard Place, Yonkers.

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