Memories of Barry Brown and Gerry Lindgren

by Gary Fanelli

I really idolized Barry Brown coming up, I’d see him at Madison Square Garden, Penn Relays, AAU Champs, etc. He was a top American. Then so many tracks guys like Rod Dixon and Barry transitioned to the roads where they could win prize money. This is where I got to meet and know Barry Brown. He was so nice. I have fond memories of being at races with him. One time we were all sitting around a swimming pool at a hotel in Florida, Barry, his wife and family, and we were all sipping beers, chatting occasionally getting into the pool to cool off for a moment…and then he was gone. I just felt so bad about the whole messy situation he got himself in. Great man…Great runner.

 Gerry Lindgren, aka “The Sparrow,” a man I so idolized and looked up to even though I was taller (a touch of humor). First time I met him was very memorable. It was in 1974 and I was living and training in Santa Monica, CA with the Santa Monica Track Club. In Santa Barbara they were having the annual AAU One Hour Run , “Postal” Championships, meaning there were One Hour Runs in various AAU Districts throughout the USA and the results were sent in to AAU Headquarters, to sort out who in the US had the best distance over one hour. The race I went to was at UCSB in Goleta, CA near Santa Barbara.

As I was running along doing laps in this One Hour Run, a person jumped onto the track and started running just ahead of me. It was Gerry Lindgren. He was not registered, he just jumped in. I knew it was him. He was reported to be living in Santa Barbara and working as a Manager at a Shakey’s Pizza’ franchise. As we ran, Gerry was chatty as if this was nothing for him as we ran along. I told him I knew it was him and he was happy that I recognized him. So we ran some miles together, then he stepped off the track at some point and that was the last I saw of him until 13 years later when I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1987. 

Gerry had been living under an assumed name there as Gayle Young. When I met Gerry while running in Honolulu, he knew I knew him. He knew who I was then also. I helped him lose his alias of Gayle Young, and he went back to finally using his real name after some years. I was happy I could help him. He liked being himself again. 

I would see Gerry at races and at various tracks where we all trained. At that point Gerry was a friend. Later on Gerry started “The Coconut Road Runners,” which meant people could join his club and enter races under  the “Coconut” name. We had group practices that Gerry held at McKinley High School track in Honolulu. Lots of people came out and he had various groups based on how fast you ran. We did many great track workouts.

I enjoyed that time.

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2 replies

  1. Gary, thanks for your support.



  2. Gary Fanelli- re:Barry Brown. We were also “friends” of Barry and his wife, Bobbi. Unfortunately, do not have those “warm, fuzzy” memories. My last memory of him is when he took the last of my husband’s inheritance (when I was 9 months pregnant) and we were notified the next day that he had taken his own life. We were totally taken off guard when we learned that this “really nice guy” had involved us (and others, including his own father) in a Ponzi scheme.


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