Syracuse community honors Rob Edson

Hundreds packed Hendricks Chapel to remember the longtime SU Athletics staffer and Onondaga Community College athletic director who passed away suddenly.

The air was still inside Hendricks Chapel Thursday, just before the memorial service for Rob Edson began. There was scuffing of soft-soles and dress shoes on granite steps; exhaling of charter buses, signaling the arrival of dozens from the Syracuse community to pay respects.

Hendricks Chapel dean Tiffany Steinwert described Edson as “a man of great integrity, loyalty and love,” adding that longtime  Syracuse University Athletics staffer and Onondaga Community College's athletic director since 2011 “exemplified the type of person we all strive to be.”

During his two decades at SU Athletics, Edson worked in numerous positions eventually leading him to become senior associate director of athletics for administration. He left SU two years ago to lead OCC's athletic program.

Rob EdsonHe passed away suddenly last Saturday after a suspected heart attack. He was 45. Edson is survived by his wife, Sue, an assistant athletic director for communications at SU, and their two children.

Hundreds were present Thursday morning at Hendricks Chapel where center pews were filled with family members, flanked by students and friends; former colleagues and athletes crowded the balconies.

Kevin Morrow knew the family for many years through his involvement with the athletic department.

“A lot of people know the family, and they had an impact on many,” said Morrow, executive director of external and public affairs strategic communications. “[(He was) a unique individual in the sense that he was exceptionally caring about first and foremost his family, and secondly about student athletes and his work.”

Rob Edson's memorial service

Pallbearers walk down the steps of Hendricks Chapel Thursday following the memorial service for Rob Edson (Photo: Torrey Lee)

As the light blue casket was rolled down the chapel, there were waves of motion through the audience. Some reached for handkerchiefs, others for loved ones and many more expressing their grief through the hanging of heads and clasping of faces.

Many close to Edson took to the podium to speak of his joyful and caring nature towards his family, friends and work. These reflections ranged from his son Thomas, 14, and his heartbreaking recollections of summer trips with his father, to Brittany Almonte’s story of how he supported her as she balanced coaching, and earning a master’s degree.

Michael Veley, director and chair of sport management, who worked closely with Edson for 18 years.

“If I could use one word to sum up Rob, that would be ‘Integrity,’” Veley said. “He wanted to represent SU with the moral and ethical fiber that any alum would be proud to say represents SU and he never wavered from that.”

Veley said that Edson pushed the students he worked with to be the best athletes, scholars and citizens they could be, regardless of their ability on the field.

“As a colleague, you work side by side with for years, it was somebody that you were in the trenches with every day, you just have unbelievable admiration for Rob Edson,” Veley said.

The service's recessional was “Down The Field” –- the SU fight song, which Steinwert noted was his personal wish.

Veley said there has been an outpouring of support from students, former colleagues, the New York Yankees and even ESPN.

“That’s how much the tentacles of Rob Edson stretched through society,” Veley said. “It’s unbelievable, and it’s a fitting tribute that people will recognize.

"He was an old-school guy in a modern era, and I mean that in the best of senses.”

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