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Olympian Skip Shurtz Passes Away at Age 84

02/06/2018, 10:15am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Shurtz gave foil pointers to a group of students that included child stars Bobby and Johnny Crawford.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Sewell “Skip” Shurtz, a 1956 Olympian and USA Fencing Hall of Famer, passed away on Thursday at his residence in Reno, Nev.

The two-time National Champion fencer got his start in the sport when his grandmother began a job as a cleaning lady at legendary fencing coach Ralph Faulkner’s Falcon Studios where Hollywood actors learned combat fighting, fencing, drama and dance. Faulkner gave young Shurtz lessons and he soon went on to win his first local tournament at age 14.

At age 19, Shurtz enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War, but he never gave up fencing and went on to win his first national title in 1954 in epee and followed with a foil gold in 1956. He represented the United States at the Pan American Games in 1955, winning silver in both individual and team epee.

Shurtz became one of the rare Olympians to compete in multiple weapons at the same Games in 1956 when he fenced in the team foil and individual and team epee events at the Melbourne Games.

Following the Games, however, Shurtz retired from competition at just 23 years old. Shurtz went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science.

He continued to remain involved in fencing for the next six decades, founding the Phoenix Falcons and later giving lessons into his 80s.

Shurtz was inducted into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame in 2012.

He is survived by his son Larry and daughters, Stacey and Dawn.

Shurtz after winning gold at the 1954 Epee National Championships.

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