It is with great sadness that the sport of track and field has lost Howard Schmertz, longtime director of the Millrose Games, at the age of 88. Along with his father, Fred, Howard had a prominent role in the development of track and field in America, especially surrounding the annual Millrose Games. From 1975 through 2003, Howard Schmertz served as Meet Director, helping the event grow to become the most iconic indoor track and field meet in the world.
In 2012, Schmertz was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame at The Armory along with his father, recognizing their long-time dedication to the sport. Schmertz is also a member of the Millrose Games Hall of Fame and International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
"Howard Schmertz will be remembered as one of the most important people in the sport of track and field," said Dr. Norbert Sander, President of the Armory Foundation. “His influence spans decades. He took the baton from his father and maintained not only the Millrose Games, but he contributed to many aspects of the sport, including sponsorship for track and field outside of Millrose. At the same time, he carried the Millrose Games forward for years, making it the most prestigious indoor track and field meet in the world. We'll certainly miss his presence.”
"I was very pleased on a personal level that we were able to bring him back to see the Millrose Games in all its glory as it has been continued at The Armory,” Dr. Sander continued. “I would say that he was very pleased to be able to see that."
Since Schmertz's passing, many of those whose lives he touched have reached out with fond remembrances, thoughts, and prayers.
"R.I.P Howard Schmertz, Millrose Games director emeritus. You were the 1st one to welcome me into the Millrose Games family. I'll miss you," Tweeted Bernard Lagat, an eight-time winner of the NYRR Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games.
Howard Schmertz graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx in 1941 and served in World War II as an Army infantryman. Upon his discharge, he earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia University and, in 1948, graduated from Columbia Law School and went to work for the firm Dean Magill & Huber, which later became Huber Lawrence & Abell. Schmertz worked days as a partner in his law firm while devoting nights and weekends, assisted by his wife, Judy, to his post as Meet Director.
The staff of The Armory Foundation and of Howard’s beloved Millrose Games send their heartfelt condolences to Judy and the Schmertz family.
Funeral services for Howard Schmertz will be held Sunday, March 30, at 2:00 P.M at Gutterman's Memorial Chapel in Woodbury, Long Island.
The address of Gutterman's Memorial Chapel is:
8000 Jericho Turnpike
Woodbury, NY 11797
Driving directions can be found here.