To people who attended the Saturday memorial service, hall of fame boxing writer Bert Sugar was many things. Some knew him as a family member, while others knew him as a colleague, mentor or member of the community.
Sugar, who passed away on March 26, was honored by a packed crowd that appeared to be in the hundreds.
Near the lecturn were placed several prominent items in his memory: Boxing gloves next to a flower bouqet, his trademark fedora and a humidor box. Several who attended also came in with fedoras.
Through the ways in which Sugar was known personally, many could agree that he loved story telling, sports trivia and was very sociable.
"Bert was famous for his quick wit and his ready one liners," recalled Ken Woodward, who first met Sugar while they both attended University of Michigan's law school.
Even when Sugar, who died last Sunday, was battling cancer in the last months of his life, his nature never went away.
"His humor didn't desert him," Woodward said, recalling meeting Sugar during this time.
Sugar's family members spoke fondly about his personal side.
"Bert is a hard act to follow and growing up with him was never a dull time," recalled his brother, Stephen Sugar. He cited an anecdote of when they were teenagers and how Bert was inadvertantly recorded on a microphone saying "shoot" several times during a project he was doing. He recalled his mother's response to the situation, stating she told him that Bert was just being Bert.
For James Korman, Sugar was a cousin who grew up in the Washington, DC area who asked their grandfather $15 for what was a noted signed by French King Louis XVI that remanded someone to the Bastille.
"Life without Bert just wouldn't have been as interesting," he said.
And for son JB Sugar, he was a father who took his boyhood troop on a winter trip to Connecticut, went sledding together, and hung out at night with other dads while playing cards. He also recited a list of tidbits from his life, including a balloon trip with publisher Malcolm Forbes and knowing famous boxer Muhammad Ali.
Sugar's love of sports could impress those who met him.
"His knowledge of sports was encyclopedic," said Rev. Tom Lenhart, the church's minister.
Speakers also recounted his interest in stories and his ability to connect with people.
"Simply put, Bert Sugar put the person in personal," said Mark Taffet, who worked with him during his time doing boxing commentary for HBO.
Attendees included a number of people with media backgrounds who came to pay their respects.
Media personality and commentator Keith Olbermann, recalled being able to help put together a book with Sugar when he was a teenager and a student at Tarrytown's Hackley School. Called The Sports Collectors Bible, Olbermann said that he worked on it as an associate editor.
"He was my first boss," Olbermann, who grew up near by in Hastings, said.
Lou DiBella, who worked on boxing programming for HBO in the 1990s, said "The guy was bigger than life."
Louis O. Schwartz, president of the American Sportscasters Association, knew him for decades. He said that Sugar had no animosity towards any body.
Sugar's family is asking that gifts made made in his memory to any of the following organizations:
- The International Boxing Hall of Fame, 1 Hall of Fame Dr., Canastota, NY 1303
- The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, 543 Cary Ave., Staten Island, NY 10310
- The National Research Fund of Tick Borne Diseases, P.O. Box 643, Wilton, CT 06897