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Leslie MacMitchell; runner starred in the 1940s; at 85

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- T. Leslie MacMitchell, one of the nation's top runners before World War II and a peerless competitive track athlete in high school and college, died March 21. He was 85.

Mr. MacMitchell, who was being treated at a hospital for pneumonia, but the exact cause of death hasn't been determined, said his wife, Jill.

''He was a gentlemen, easy to live with and competitive, certainly in his younger years," Jill MacMitchell said.

Mr. MacMitchell was the first college undergraduate to win the Sullivan Award as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete. In 1941, he won the mile in all five Madison Square Garden intercollegiate meets.

Mr. MacMitchell joined the Navy in 1942 and served as a lieutenant in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

His wife said his career was never the same, and he retired in 1948 after failing to qualify for the Olympics.

''Running on the steel deck of a light cruiser is not the best way to train," he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.

Mr. MacMitchell leaves two sons, Thomas, of Redwood City, Calif., and Gordon, of Carlsbad, Calif.; two daughters, Marianne and Melanie MacMitchell, both of Carlsbad; and three grandchildren.

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