Families across the country are saying goodbye to their loved ones who have lost the battle to coronavirus. In Norwalk, the Roman family is remembering a mother, sister and grandma, who also happened to be a senior track and field legend.
Mary Roman was one of the best in the game.
“You would have sworn you were looking at FloJo,” said son Gerald Roman.
But she wasn’t record-setting track star Florence Griffith Joyner. She was a longtime Norwalk city clerk, with a not-so hidden talent.
Roman once ranked first in the nation in both the superweight and ultraweight shot put, and second in the throws pentathlon. She was a senior Olympian who took her training seriously, kept her stats meticulously and ended up with more than 300 medals.
All that since first starting track and field events in 1999.
“I think some running first and then she went into the weights and stuff because I guess she had a bad knee or a bad hip and kind of started to slow her down a little bit,” said Craig Roman, another one of her five sons. “But she wanted to keep going so she picked up a different event.”
Craig Roman says hammer throw and shot put were her favorites. So much so that even a heart attack in 2004 couldn’t keep her from the track.
“The only thing she was worried about was when can she get back to practicing,” said Gerald.
Which is why her family thought she’d have no trouble with the next hurdle: battling coronavirus. Roman went to the hospital for fatigue and was ultimately diagnosed with COVID-19.
“She was starting to breathe back on her own,” said Gerald. “And then she just took a turn and unfortunately this was one race she couldn't win.”
On March 23, at 84 years old, Mary Roman became another number in the growing count of victims. But for Roman and her family, that number will always be number 1.
“When I laid her to rest I got her USA track uniform, and one of her gold medals to put in with her so she would have that with her always,” said Craig.
Her family held a virtual memorial for her on Facebook, but said they can’t wait to give her the celebration of life she deserves.