The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


July 7, 2010

Police probe death of 'Buddha-like figure'

NEW BERLIN — As state police await autopsy results before determining whether a Union County yoga master's death was an accident or a homicide, friends spent Tuesday reflecting on his remarkable life that included a collegiate football career and a stint in a military special operations unit before the transformation that turned Joe Fenton into Sudharman.

"I suppose you could say the first thing he reminded me of was a Buddha- or Jesus-like figure in the respect that he's a person you automatically wanted to emulate," yoga student Christian Cochran said Tuesday.

Cochran, like many of Sudharman's friends and students, was shocked to hear of the 70-year-old man's death on Monday.

Sudharman was found dead on the floor of his living quarters at the Integral Yoga Center on Market Street, in New Berlin, by a fellow teacher, wrapped in blankets below the 8-foot-high loft in which Sudharman slept.

Cochran was among Sudharman's students, family and friends who were at the yoga center Tuesday afternoon, offering a chant meant to usher Sudharman into the afterlife.

Police have not yet ruled out foul play nor will they call the death a homicide, state police Trooper Matthew Burrows said. He hopes an autopsy scheduled for 10 this morning at the Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown will help to determine a cause of death.

An athlete, scholar

Sudharman was born Joe Fenton, the son of a prison worker and nurse, and moved to Lewisburg when he was 12. A Dragons football star, he went to Cornell University on an athletic and academic scholarship, graduated in 1961 with a degree in zoology and planned to attend medical school.

Instead, he went into business, eventually working as general manager of a minor league football team. In the mid-1960s, Sudharman entered the Navy.

Fred Bloom, of Lancaster, was Sudharman's roommate for a year at Cornell and over the years had been frequently regaled with Sudharman's stories about managing the minor league football team and then becoming a member of an elite special operations unit.

Friends give varying accounts of his military service, suggesting Sudharman was either in the unit before it was described as the Navy SEALS or that he was a member of the first class of SEALS.

Ron Demer, of Ithaca, the president of the alumni association of Cornell's prestigious Quill and Daggers honor society, said that in college Sudharman was a popular football player and Sigma Phi fraternity member.

As a result, it was not surprising that Sudharman was admitted as a member to the Quill and Daggers, which reportedly ranks with Skull and Bones at Yale as one of the most prestigious college honor societies.

Text Only
  • Prize claim cost man $1,829

    WINFIELD — Western Union is doing what it can to educate people about the risks in wiring money. An entire section on its website ( is devoted to providing information that might reduce the risk of people falling victim to fraud schemes.

    April 19, 2014

  • Reel good time enjoyed by 200 young anglers

    TREVORTON — It only took about three minutes for J.C. Wallish to reel in his first fish at the Little Shamokin Creek Watershed Association’s annual Youth Trout Derby on Saturday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Elytte Barbour's 'bad trip' put him on the road to prison, friend says

    SUNBURY — A former roommate of slaying suspect Elytte Barbour drove 450 miles from North Carolina to spend 45 minutes in the Northumberland County Prison with his best friend last week, and was not surprised when he heard Barbour say: “I am afraid to spend the rest of my life in jail.”

    April 19, 2014

  • bonehunt20a.jpg 60 dogs battle for biscuits at annual bone hunt

    It was a scene similar to ones playing out all over the nation this weekend: nervous parents holding baskets and bags, watching their little ones search for goodies in the grass.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule

    Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs

    ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

    April 19, 2014

  • State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy

    MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penn State police: Three posed nude at Nittany shrine

    STATE COLLEGE — Penn State police say three male students who reportedly posed nude for a photo at the university’s Nittany Lion Shrine face school discipline.

    April 18, 2014

The Daily Marquee

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.