Long Distance Legend

Curt Stone leaves a legacy as one of Penn State’s most decorated track athletes.

Curt Stone

Three-time Olympian Curt Stone was proud of his accomplishments on the track, but when praise came his way, he never focused solely on himself. “Running was really important to him; he loved to talk about it,” says his daughter, Sara Miller. “But he also loved to talk about the other runners that he knew.” That was particularly true for his former college and Olympic teammates Bill Ashenfelter ’51 H&HD and Horace Ashenfelter ’49, ’55 MS H&HD, with whom he remained friends.

A Brooklyn, Pa., native, Stone ’47 Com, ’55 MEd, ’63 DEd Edu began running for Penn State in 1940 and was a member of the cross-country team that won the 1942 NCAA championship. He left for military service in 1943 but returned after the war, earning a journalism degree. Throughout the ’40s and ’50s, Stone was one of the nation’s top distance runners, winning 14 Amateur Athletic Union national championships. He earned two gold medals at the 1951 Pan American Games, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 10,000 meters, and he was a member of the 1948, ’52, and ’56 U.S. Olympic teams; his best showing was a sixth-place finish in the 5,000 in the ’48 Games in London. Stone was inducted into the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame, The Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

After earning a Ph.D. in education, Stone spent 22 years as a professor at Kent State University. After his retirement, he and his wife, the late Margaret Lewis Stone ’55 MEd Edu, wrote several books on local history and helped establish the Brooklyn Historical Society. “He was extremely nice and very intellectually curious,” says friend Greg Fredericks ’72 Edu, who followed Stone as a Nittany Lion track star. “It was a pleasure to know him.”

Stone died July 30, 2021, at the age of 98. Besides his daughter, he is survived by a son-in-law and two step-grandchildren.