Frank E. Greenberg, 81, lawyer and track official

Frank E. Greenberg received honors for his track officiating.
Frank E. Greenberg received honors for his track officiating.
Posted: July 03, 2014

Frank E. Greenberg, 81, formerly of Penn Valley, a Philadelphia lawyer and standout track and field official, died Sunday, June 29, at an assisted-living facility in Palm Harbor, Fla., of complications associated with Alzheimer's disease.

He had been ill for several years, said his friend Stuart Gellman.

Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from Overbrook High School in 1950, and earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and a degree from Penn's Law School.

He served in the Army from 1955 to 1957 and was honorably discharged with the rank of first lieutenant.

His career as a lawyer spanned 30 years with the firm Katz, Slifkin and Greenberg. The firm in Philadelphia later became Slifkin & Greenberg.

Mr. Greenberg was best known, though, for his national, international, and local profile as a runner - and as a renowned track and field official. For four years ending in 1992, he was president of USA Track and Field, the first non-coach to hold that position.

He was a past president of the Athletics Congress, a member of the U.S. Olympic International Competition Committee, and vice chair of the International Doping Commission for the International Association of Athletics Federations.

In 1997, as vice chair of the doping commission, he helped bring about a reduction in the penalty for athletes who violated international doping standards. His commission recommended that the four-year suspension for those caught doping be cut to two.

The rule change passed by a vote of 112-56.

In 1986, he received the Robert Giegengack Award, the top honor bestowed by USA Track and Field, and was also given the Jesse Owens Award by the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Association.

He also made his mark locally. In 1971, he began officiating at winter indoor high school track meets. At the time, the Philadelphia Officials Club did not allow women, African Americans, or Jews to officiate.

In response, Mr. Greenberg cofounded the diverse Philadelphia Official Council, which slowly took over the assignment of track meets for almost every league and conference, including high schools, Amateur Athletic Union clubs, and colleges in the Philadelphia area.

In 1999, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions in track and field, according to the group's website.

Mr. Greenberg also was active in the Maccabi World Union and the JCC Maccabi Games.

A regular at the Penn Relays, he was a master of hand-timing photo finishes and of judging the decathlon javelin-throwing competition.

In 1979, while officiating at Penn's Murphy Field, he was involved in a bizarre accident. A stray warm-up javelin, flipping on wet grass, pierced his right calf three inches below the knee during the IC4A decathlon competition. Initially, he wanted to go back out onto the field with the wound bandaged.

But the javelin had severed the right peroneal nerve and artery. He spent three weeks in a hospital and eventually had three operations. Afterward, his foot was about 70 percent functional. So, while he returned to officiating a year later, he was forced to trade serious running for race walking.

"I'm very proud of the injury," he later told The Inquirer. "It got me to know about handicapped athletics. It's a perspective I never had."

In 2005, Mr. Greenberg received the Herman J. Mancini Award, which honors an active official of the Penn Relays for continued meritorious service.

He was married to Anne Schwab. They divorced; she died three years ago. He married Linda Alpert Greenberg, who died in 2010.

Surviving are sons Jeff and Scott; three grandchildren; and a sister.

Graveside services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 2, in Section I of Roosevelt Memorial Park, 2701 Old Lincoln Highway, Trevose.

Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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