USA Gymnastics Co-Founder Sundby dies at 87
posted on 03/19/2009

Glenn Marlin Sundby
© International Gymnast
Click here for A.B. Frederick's "Glenn M. Sundby: Happy Handstands in Heaven" and a tribute from the gymnastics community

CARLSBAD, Calif., March 18, 2009 – Glenn Marlin Sundby of Carlsbad, Calif., one of the founders of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation now known as USA Gymnastics, died March 18 at the age of 87. An acrobatic performer, he also created and published "The Modern Gymnast" which grew into "International Gymnast" magazine. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, at 10 a.m. at Coastline Baptist Church in Oceanside, Calif.

"Glenn was a legend in our sport and a good friend. He was passionate about gymnastics and everything surrounding the sport,” said Peter Vidmar, USA Gymnastics chairman of the Board and 1984 Olympic gold medalist. “Most important, however, was Glenn's visible enthusiasm for everything gymnastics. He was always determined to preserve the sport's history, giving credit to the great ones that developed the sport. Glenn will be missed, but his contributions will be felt for generations."

“The U.S. gymnastics family has lost one of its pioneers,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “He was an original, and his lifelong love and passion for gymnastics helped transform the sport into what it is today by helping start USA Gymnastics and publishing gymnastics magazines for nearly 50 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Donations in Sundby’s name may be forwarded to the Santa Monica Historical Society, P.O. Box 3059, Santa Monica, CA 90403.

Sundby got his start in gymnastics when he was 14 and was a high school gymnast. He created a hand-balancing act with George Wayne Long, a former ex-wrestler and body builder he met at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, Calif., and their act “Rhapsody in Balance” appeared at carnivals, theaters and small nightclubs. In 1945, Sundby’s sister Dolores joined the act, forming the Wayne-Marlin Trio. Their stunts included a photograph of the trio on top of a 25-story hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., and in 1949 in Washington D.C., Sundby walked down the 898 steps of the Washington Monument on his hands, gaining national recognition.

His first venture into publishing was “Acrobat” magazine, which was published for two years until the trio act returned to the road as part of the “Spike Jones and His Musical Insanities” show for five years.


Sundby mixes a little fun with work in the AcaAModern GymnastAcaA magazine office in the late 1950s
AA(C) International Gymnast

After the act was retired, Sundby started "The Modern Gymnast” and published a complimentary issue in December 1956, with the first issue printed in May 1957. Sundby was a one-man show, doing everything from writing to photography to producing the magazine and handling the mailing. His other ventures included creating the Santa Monica Gymfest, a fun competition, in 1963 and launching “Mademoiselle Gymnast” in 1965. In 1972, he combined “Modern Gymnast” and “Mademoiselle Gymnast” into “Gymnast,” which covered both men’s and women’s gymnastics. After the 1976 Olympic Games, the magazine’s name was changed to “International Gymnast.” He also tried several other publications, and in the early 1990s, sold “International Gymnast” to its current publisher, Paul Ziert.

In 1962, Sundby was one of the founders of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation (USGF), now operating as USA Gymnastics, and served as the vice president. Sundby also co-founded the U.S. Sports Acrobatics Federation in the 1970s with George Nissen. He also founded the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Oceanside, Calif., in 1986, which moved to Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1996.

His many honors and accolades include: member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame (1968); "Spirit of the Flame" honoree of USA Gymnastics’ Athlete’s Council; Master of Sport from the U.S. Gymnastics Federation (1982); World Acrobatic Society Gallery of Honor (2000); and the Charles Pond Service Award (2005).

Sundby’s health had declined in the last year, and he was staying in an assisted living center in Carlsbad, Calif., before being admitted to Tri-City Hospital in Vista, Calif., last week. He was born Nov. 4, 1921, in Minneapolis, and the family lived in South Dakota before moving to Southern California in the fall of 1932. In addition to his sister Delores, he also had a twin sister, Gladys, and an adopted son, Scott. 
 
For another article on Glenn M. Sundby written by A.B. Frederick - Glenn M. Sundby: Happy Handstands in Heaven