Harry Parker

Harry Parker

The word “legend”gets applied almost indiscriminately to sports figures these days, but Harry Parker, head coach of heavyweight mens’ crew at Harvard for 51 years, was the genuine article. He may be the most successful coach in the history of American college sports: across the decades, his crews’ overall winning percentage was in excess of .800; they won 16 official and unofficial national championships, and never had a losing year. Even at age 77, Parker was still at the peak of his powers: his last three crews went undefeated in the regular season.

He did this while coping with a rare form of blood cancer that took his life on June 25. Many oarsmen regarded him as their most important teacher at Harvard. (For more on Parker, see this issues's Letters section, and the online report, “Harry Parker, Legendary Crew Coach, Dies.”)

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