Steve Mendelsohn, a fixture on the New York City Marathon course even though he never laced up running shoes, died on Wednesday at his home in Dumont. Mendelsohn, the race's communications cq director, was 67.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Heidi.
A leader in the amateur radio community, Mr. Mendelsohn organized and supervised the hundreds of volunteer ham |radio operators deployed along the marathon route. He held |that role since 1976, when race co-founder Fred Lebow redesigned the course to incorporate all five New York City boroughs.
In an 2011 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Mendelsohn explained why ham radios were necessary at the race, which draws more than 47,000 runners and 2 million spectators.
"You have a crowd of maybe 80,000 people around the final stretch [in Central Park], and when everyone gets on their phones, it can be a communications disaster," he said.
Mr. Mendelsohn, a broadcast engineer, felt energized by his volunteer marathon gig, in which he rode in a lead vehicle and spoke to others on four hand-held ham radios.
"He loved it so much that |he began working the Miami Marathon," his wife said.
But he did not love the New York City Marathon so much that he was tempted to run it, she added.
Working for the National Football League, Mr. Mendelsohn was a presence at New York Jets home games for the past 14 seasons. As "game day frequency coordinator," he played radio frequency traffic cop while roaming the sidelines.
"My ultimate goal is to create an interference-free RF environment & " ellispsis cq he said in a 2007 interview with the ham radio magazine QST. "If frequencies aren't coordinated, or aren't coordinated correctly, this leads to interference. Coaches shouldn't be hearing anything except themselves when they're com-municating with the quarterback."
Friend and fan of Jets
"Steve became a dear, dear fan of the Jets," his wife said. "They're an amazing group of gentlemen, all the way up to Woody and Rex [team owner Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan], who were in our home to see how Steve was during his illness."
An obituary tribute to Mr. Mendelsohn on newyorkjets|.com described him as "a great friend and fan of the Green & White."
Mr. Mendelsohn grew up on Long Island, studied engineering at Hofstra University and served in the Navy and Naval Reserve. He joined the ABC television network in 1990 as an audio/visual systems engineer, after 21 years with CBS.
While at CBS, he covered trips by Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. At ABC, he helped design the digital control room and mobile production trucks that the network used for "Monday Night Football."
Mr. Mendelsohn gave back to Dumont, where he lived for 26 years, by overseeing radio communications for the annual Dumont 5K.
He is survived by his wife of eight years; his children from a previous marriage, Janet Mendelsohn of Maplewood, Mark Matsen of Kenilworth, Michelle Westgate of Mineola, N.Y., and Scott Mendelsohn of Baltimore; his stepchildren, Lesa cq Minckler of Irving, Texas, and Joseph Rodriguez of Fort Worth, Texas; a sister, Lenore Maletta of Queens; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours are 2 to 4 p.m. today fri and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Basralian Funeral Home, Oradell. The funeral service will be held there Sunday at 2 p.m.
Published in The Record on May 25, 2012