Dr. Norbert Sander was my doctor when I first moved to City Island in the 90's to build News 12, The Bronx. The New York Road Runners wrote the following Obit.
The founder and president of The Armory, a member of the New York Road Runners Board of Directors, and the champion of the 1974 New York City Marathon, has died March 17, 2017.
We at New York Road Runners are deeply saddened by the passing of Norb, and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends, and the amazing team he led at The Armory. His impact on the track-and-field and road-running communities was unparalleled.
Norb was born in Yonkers, NY, in 1942, and attended Sacred Heart Grammar School and Fordham Prep, where he was a member of the historic 1958 and 1959 cross-country teams that won the New York City Championships. He went on to run track and cross country at Fordham University, winning a Penn Relays championship in 1963 and graduating in 1964.
He graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1971. An internist specializing in family medicine, Dr. Sander practiced on City Island for many years. Running continued to be a major part of his life, highlighted by his 1974 New York City Marathon victory. He is the only native New Yorker to have won this race.
In 1992, Norb stood on a debris-strewn balcony in the Fort Washington Armory at 168th Street in Washington Heights. At that time, there were about 2,000 homeless men living in the dilapidated facility. The 96,000 square-foot Armory, with its vaulted ceiling, had been New York City’s premier arena for indoor track until the mid-1980s, and Norb had memories of competing there in high school and college. “It had been a shrine, a holy place,” he noted in a 1995 Sports Illustrated article.
He had a vision for the Armory, and after working with the city to move the homeless inhabitants to better situations, he led a $25 million project to restore the facility to its former status, building a premier athletic facility where young athletes would compete and be inspired to continue their interest in track and field.
Over the years the restored Armory has hosted hundreds of thousands of runners from youth to Olympic Gold medalists. A national historic landmark, the Armory is internationally renowned as the premier indoor track and field facility in America, seeing more than 400,000 visitors a year and housing the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Today, the Armory also includes a learning center and community center serving youth and families. The afterschool program is among the largest in New York City, and each year about 150 high school students join the Armory College Prep program for help gaining admission to college.
Under Norb’s leadership, the NYRR Millrose Games was moved from Madison Square Garden to the Armory in 2012, bringing back the excitement and glory of America’s most famous indoor track meet. A longtime member of NYRR’s Board of Directors, Norb was the vice-chair of the Public Affairs Committee. He never ceased to come up with big ideas, some of which he was sharing with his fellow Board members and NYRR leadership just days before his passing.
“We will remember Norb as one of the iconic people in our sport,” said George Hirsch, the chairman of NYRR’s Board of Directors. “It was Norb’s extraordinary vision, drive, and energy that helped shape the lives of so many through NYRR and the Armory.”
Norb received the 2014 Abebe Bikila Award from NYRR for his outstanding contributions to the sport of distance running. He was also the recipient of the 2000 Heliodoro and Patricia Rico Lifetime Achievement Award from USA Track & Field and a 2005 USATF President’s Award, among other honors. He was married to Bridget Bennett Sander and had four daughters: Evan, Jessica, Emma, and Phoebe.
NYRR Photo | NYRR http://www.nyrr.org/nyrr-photo/view/36289/36293