The Armory Mourns the Passing of its Founder Dr. Norbert W. Sander Jr.
Dr. Norbert W. Sander, Jr., who reclaimed The Armory in Washington Heights and transformed it into one of the jewels of U.S. track and field, died unexpectedly at his home on Friday, March 17, 2017.
Dr. Sander, the President and CEO of the non-profit Armory Foundation, graduated from Albert Einstein Medical School in 1971, and was an internist specializing in family medicine, where he maintained a practice at City Island for four decades.
A lifelong New Yorker and track man, Dr. Sander was a product of Fordham Prep and Fordham University, where he was part of the winning Penn Relays 4xMile team in 1963. In 1974, Dr. Sander became the first and only New Yorker to win the New York City Marathon. Dr. Sander was inducted into the halls of fame at both Fordham Prep and Fordham University, and he was the recipient of Mayor Bloomberg’s Leadership Award in 2011.
In 1990, after the passing of his high school coach, Joe Fox, Dr. Sander decided to roll up his sleeves and begin the nearly impossible effort of trying to restore The Armory for youth track and field. It was a monumental task. The Armory was dilapidated homeless shelter, housing 2,000 people in sub-standard conditions.
“(Fox) was my inspiration,” Dr. Sander said. “What I learned in Jesuit school was that you should be a man for others. You should do what you can for someone else.”
Those words guided Dr. Sander — known by his friends and within The Armory simply as “Doc” — both in his medical practice and his profound commitment to creating opportunity for youngsters and athletes on and off the track.
In 1993, then-New York City Mayor David Dinkins handed over “the key to The Armory” to Dr. Sander. Dr. Sander tirelessly worked to completely renovate the building and began a long process of re-establishing the Armory as the premier venue for indoor track and field, an effort that went a long way to revitalizing Washington Heights and the sport of track and field in the city and beyond. One of the big moments came in 2012, when the prestigious NYRR Millrose Games moved to The Armory after a 97-year run at Madison Square Garden, after which is has attracted sold out crowds in excess of 5,000 people.
Dr. Sander’s vision exists today in the Armory’s New Balance Track and Field Center under an enormous vaulted ceiling that is home to more track and field records than anywhere else in the world. Today, the world-class Armory hosts more than 100 track and field meets and welcomes more than 125,000 youngsters alongside Olympians onto its historic track each year.
After re-creating The Armory, Dr. Sander founded the highly successful after-school education and college access program called Armory College Prep, which assists underserved middle and high school track and field athletes with academics and paves the way for them to go to four-year colleges.
Dr. Sander was native of Yonkers and is survived by his four daughters: Eva, Jessica, Emma and Phoebe, his wife, Bridget Bennett Sander, a registered nurse, and his mother Gertrude.
In Dr. Sander’s honor, please consider a contribution to Armory College Prep program at Donate in Honor of Dr. Sander.
(This was copied/pasted from the armory web site)