Leslie MacMitchell, 85, the first college undergraduate to win the Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete, died March 21 in San Jose. The cause of death has not been determined, but MacMitchell was being treated for pneumonia.
A native of New York City, MacMitchell was one of the nation's top runners before World War II and a peerless competitive track athlete in high school and college. In 1941, he won the mile in all five Madison Square Garden intercollegiate meets. He won the Sullivan Award that same year at the age of 20.
MacMitchell joined the Navy in 1942 and served as a lieutenant in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. His wife said his running career was never the same, and he retired in 1948 after failing to qualify for the Olympics. "Running on the steel deck of a light cruiser is not the best way to train," he told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.