Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 54 Reggie Pearman R.I.P.

Reggie Pearman (1923-2012)

Reggie Pearman, one of the US’s premier middle distance runners in the post WWII era, passed away June 15, 2012 in New York City at the age of 89. 

Born of Ethiopian immigrant parents in New York City, Mr. Pearman attended NYU and was a prominent member of the Violets track team.  He ran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, suffering a severe spike wound tohis Achilles tendon in 1948, and it was thought he would only walk with difficulty after that injury.  He was back running at a high level within the year.  He  finished 7th in the 800 meter final saying, “I ran a lousy race.  Those guys didn’t sit around and wait for me.  They had their own races and raced them. 

In 1957 he won the national AAU 440 championship  at Dayton, Ohio.  In 1976 he was inducted into NYU’s hall of fame.

Mr. Pearman was a close friend of Charlie Jenkins, the 400 meter champ at Melbourne.  Jenkins recruited Reggie into the US Peace Corps where he worked as an administrator in Venezuela.    Prior to that he had been teaching social studies and health education in a junior high school in Queens.  He continued his education at U. Mass receiving a doctorate in education, then taught graduate and doctoral students in education at Cornell, California State (PA) and other schools.

His first race was in a school intramural meet in 1941.  "I think I ran the 440", but the following year he won the New York City high school cross country championship as a freshman.  He also ran for the New York Pioneer Club, one of the first racially integrated track and field organizations.

Having no guidance on seeking scholarships, he was a walk on at NYU.  “My parents came from Ethiopia.  They didn’t understand what a scholarship was.”  As a member of NYU’s team, he helped the school win a number of national relay titles which included a WR 3:22.7 sprint medley in 1950.  His name was put on the Penn Relays Wall of Fame in 1994.

Mr. Pearman served in the army in the Philippines in WWII and re-entered to serve in Korea as well. 

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