Obituary: Robert Eazor / Successful Ironman triathlete
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When he was the head coach of the Steelers, Chuck Noll sometimes would inspire his players by telling them about his friend Robert Eazor.
He'd tell them how Mr. Eazor, then in his 60s, competed in Ironman Triathlons that made NFL practices look like a jog in the park.
Mr. Eazor, of Penn Hills, who devoted the latter part of his life to fitness, died Sunday. He was 84.
Although he didn't start his competitive career until he was 59, Mr. Eazor was incredibly successful in the triathlon races he entered. At the age of 60, he competed in his first Ironman Triathlon in Cape Cod, Mass. Despite racing against much more experienced competitors, he finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in first place for his age group. In 1993, he competed in his first Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
He was 65 and finished second in his age group.
"He was just incredibly competitive, incredibly focused and could go through pain like no one I've ever met," said Joseph Maroon, Mr. Eazor's longtime training partner.
Mr. Eazor was born in Beaver Falls and started a trucking company with his brother, Tom, at the age of 20. Over the next 31 years, the two built Eazor Express to serve most of the eastern United States.
Mr. Eazor started dedicating himself to fitness at 40, when a doctor revealed some medical issues that could have required constant medication. Instead, Mr. Eazor dedicated himself to running and healthy eating.
"He totally just changed overnight. He changed his life," Mr. Eazor's daughter, Candy, said. "We all started running, all of us in the family would run."
In addition to the triathlons, Mr. Eazor loved racquetball and opened clubs in Monroeville and Greensburg.
He retired from the trucking business in 1978, and a few years later found his next calling. On a family trip down to Florida, he saw a group of people swimming and running. He stopped the car, with his family inside, and asked what they were doing. They told him it was a triathlon, and Mr. Eazor knew that was something he wanted to try.
"He embraced it," his daughter said. "Whatever he did, he embraced it to be the best."
Mr. Eazor started with smaller races before building up to the full Ironman races in Cape Cod and Hawaii. He participated in triathlons in Germany, Switzerland and Australia. The one constant was his wife, June, who made sure his snacks were packed and water bottles were filled.
"[She] was the greatest inspiration for Bobby," Dr. Maroon said. "He had tremendous confidence knowing that she was with him."
Mr. Eazor never lost the tenacious qualities that made him a good role model for Chuck Noll's Steelers. He competed in the Senior Olympics at age 75 in both cycling and triathlon and stayed active at his winter home in Hilton Head.
"My dad was only about 5 foot 6," Candy Eazor said. "But I think he thought he was about 6-5."
Mr. Eazor is survived by his wife and five children.
First Published February 16, 2013 12:00 am