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Big turnout for annual road race honoring Mechanicville patrolman slain in 1976

Big turnout for annual road race honoring Mechanicville patrolman slain in 1976

All proceeds to go towards scholarship fund
Big turnout for annual road race honoring Mechanicville patrolman slain in 1976
Sammy Schindel, left, and his father, Jonathan Schindel, placed first and second in the Paul Luther Memorial run on Sunday.
Photographer: Pete DeMola / Gazette Reporter

MECHANICVILLE — The public turned out in droves for a 5K fun run on Sunday designed to honor a local police officer killed in the line of duty more than 40 years ago. 

One-hundred and twenty-six runners entered the 3rd Annual Paul Luther Memorial Run at Tallmadge Park.

Dozens more were there to cheer them on. 

All event proceeds will go towards an annual scholarship fund at Mechanicville High School for two graduating seniors who seek to pursue careers in criminal justice.

Luther, 21, was killed while responding to a sniper who opened fire on Joyce's Log Cabin in Mechanicville on Oct. 30, 1976. 

Luther was the first officer to respond and was killed after being shot in the neck.

Earlier that morning, the part-time patrolman had taken an exam to join the state police, recalled his sister, Nancy Luther Izzo. 

Luther was the middle of five children and the only boy, she said.

“By the age of 21, he accomplished so much in life,” Izzo said: patrolman, fireman, Little League coach, accomplished carpenter. 

Luther, who stood 6 foot 6 inches, had always been interested in law enforcement, she said. 

“He was always community service-oriented,” Izzo said. “He loved life and enjoyed it for the 21 short years he had.

“Even now 42 years later, we still miss him every day.”

The rampage also killed bar patron James Marsh and left 10 injured.

Izzo glanced at the runners stretching and streaming to the starting line, noting numerous nieces and nephews were participating. 

“He would be so proud,” Izzo said. “He was amazing.”

She thanked the Mechanicville Police Department for keeping his memory alive in a positive way.

Mechanicville Police Chief Bill Rabbit said the department didn’t have a specific fundraising goal for the event.

“Hopefully we'll make a little more than we put into it,” Rabbit said.

The fun run is part of a broader festival-style family day at the local park, joining games, vendors and a firework display scheduled for Sunday evening.

Joseph Sheehan watched the festivities with his mother from her residence at the corner of Spring Street and Park Avenue.

The retired judge marveled at the sunny weather and said it was as pleasant as any he’s seen in the past four decades.

“The most special part really is Family Day," Sheehan said. "That’s not just the name of it."

First- and second-place winners of the adult 5K were Sammy (17:19) and Jonathan Schindel (18:20).

The son and father duo from New York City swung by the event on their way home from Vermont.

“We made a note of it and made sure to stop by,” Sammy said. 

The third-place winner, whose name was not immediately available on Sunday afternoon, crossed the finish line with a time of 19:35, according to race officials.

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