GLEN RIDGE, NJ - Glen Ridge resident and 1952 Olympian, Horace Ashenfelter III passed away on January 6 at the age of 94, less than a month before his 95th birthday.
Ashenfelter was an American athlete most known for competing in international athletics from 1947 to 1956. During his tenure, he garnered fifteen national AAU titles and three collegiate national titles.
According to his biography, Ashenfelter was born on January 23, 1923 in Collegeville, Pennsylvania and served in World War II. He also earned a degree at Penn State, where an indoor track facility is named in his honor.
Athletically, Ashenfelter was notably known for winning the steeplechase at the 1952 Summer Olympics at Helsinki with a surge following the final water jump, despite critics doubts that he could win. This race, which many considered an early athletic Cold War battle, was shocking since the victory placed him ahead of Vladimir Kazantsevof the USSR and John Disley of Great Britain. The upsetting victory broke Kazantsev's unofficial world record.
Ashenfelter later went on to win the Sullivan Award as outstanding amateur athlete for the year 1952 and the Millrose Games two-mile run from 1952 to 1955 and again in 1957. He also won the USA Cross Country Championships back to back in 1954-5, three years after his Olympian younger brother Bill Ashenfelter had won the same championship, the only set of brothers to both win the event.
In 1975, Ashenfelter was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Millrose Games Hall of Fame in 2001 as a five-time champion, Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Glen Ridge community that Ashenfelter called home, has held the Ashenfelter 8k Classic each year in his honor.