Mary Roman, a former city clerk for Norwalk, who’s hailed as one of the world’s top senior Olympians, on Monday succumbed to the rampaging coronavirus pandemic. She was 83.
Born on September 9, 1935, in Pittsfield, Mass., Roman was the third native of Norwalk to die from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
There are at least 368,196 coronavirus cases in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally with the death toll nearing 11,000, CNN reports.
“Mary was a wonderful person and an inspiration to us all,” the city’s Mayor Harry Rilling said in a statement, The Patch reports. “She had a can-do, never quit attitude. She was kind, caring, and selfless. She brought international recognition to our city through her athletic prowess. My deepest condolences to her family – she will be sorely missed. May she rest in peace.”
Roman started competing in senior track events in 1989, reaching her first nationals and ultimately qualified for the World Senior Games and USATF Masters Track and Field Championships. Other accounts say she began training for senior Olympics events after the death of her husband who was active in the senior Olympics in 1999.
A graduate of Springfield College, Roman, who had been a banker for 35 years and also a city clerk for eight years serving under three mayors, swiftly and quickly excelled in the senior Olympics event she participated in.
Roman played softball and basketball and did cheerleading during her high school days. “Those were the only three sports for girls,” she told The Hour. “I also took horseback riding because I had polio and the doctor said it would strengthen my legs. I guess it worked.”
Roman was once ranked first in the nation in both the super weight and ultra-weight shot put, and second in the throws pentathlon. She had won more than 250 gold, silver and bronze medals.
Roman has never had a coach until 2013 when Mike Santa Lucia (who coached her son Craig in track) helped her in the javelin for the World Games. “I just watched a lot of videos and talked to people,” she told The Hour.
Roman was using a local batting cage to practice the shot, one of the events she shone in as a senior Olympian, weeks before her death, The New York Times reports.
It is believed that Roman contracted the deadly contagion from “either through the church or Costco’s,” Nancy on Norwalk quotes her son Michael as saying.