Webb gave to sport in life, death

Generosity: The Hall of Famer's $4.5 million bequest is no surprise to those who knew him.


December 04, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Baltimore native A. Norman Webb Jr. pursued lacrosse with a passion for most of his life as a player, coach and organizer, and the sport's national governing body is much richer because of it.

Webb, a graduate of the Gilman School and a Lacrosse Hall of Fame member who died Aug. 20 at age 62, willed to U.S. Lacrosse a $4.5 million gift, the largest ever received by the organization. The bequest dwarfs the nonprofit organization's second-largest gift of $400,000, and more than doubles its endowment of $2.1 million.

To those who knew Webb, a two-time, first-team, All-America goalkeeper in the 1960s at Army, who went on to start club lacrosse programs in San Francisco and San Diego and youth leagues in San Diego, the gift came as no surprise.

"Lacrosse was truly Norm's life. To him, it wasn't a job. It was a calling," said Bill Annan, a friend of Webb's since meeting him as a teammate at West Point. "He was a quiet, private guy, but he never stopped talking about his kids. He always made time for it and he loved being out there doing anything he could for the kids."

Webb worked for the federal government and later taught at Coleman College and at the San Diego campus of United States International University. He also owned rental properties in the San Diego area, Annan said.

But from the time he received the Unsung Hero Award as a lacrosse player before graduating from Gilman in 1960, most of his energy was focused on his favorite sport.

He won the Sidney M. Cone Award as the nation's outstanding goalie in 1963 and 1964 at Army, then went on to start a club program in San Francisco in the early 1970s, before moving to San Diego. There, he formed the San Dieguito Lacrosse Club and the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club lacrosse team, serving as a coach for both teams.

In 1976, Webb helped to launch a club team at San Diego State University. A year later, he played a crucial role in starting the city's first youth lacrosse league.

"He had a guiding hand in the youth league that is now flourishing in San Diego. He had a lot of passion about the sport and he wanted to see it played right," said Mitch Fenton, a Los Angeles lawyer who played on the original team at San Diego State. "When he came out to coach at a couple of clinics, we all fell under his spell. His leadership inspired people."

Most recently, Webb was an assistant coach at San Diego State.

"We are incredibly honored by his passion for the sport and his belief in the potential of U.S. Lacrosse to represent and serve the sport," said Steve Stenersen, executive director of the Baltimore-based, 160,000-member U.S. Lacrosse, which promotes the sport, helps to train coaches and officials and preserves the game's history in the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame.

"Norm's gift will enable us to expand national programming, bolster our modest endowment, and potentially help provide a solution to our current facility challenges."

Stenersen said that U.S. Lacrosse is outgrowing its 12,000-square-foot headquarters at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus.

Apart from his lacrosse contributions, Webb also was one of the more decorated combat officers of his class. His military career included two tours of Vietnam and one tour of Korea. He was awarded two Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, one Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Army Commendation Medal, among other decorations.

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