I WAS deeply saddened to learn of the death of longtime Harvard crew coach Harry Parker (“Harvard crew legend Parker dies of cancer,” Sports, June 26). Reading the story about his last day on the Charles River made me recall so many wonderful memories of my time on the river in Harry’s early Harvard years.
Harry was a mentor and guide, helping me as a young lightweight rower in more ways than I can recall. He designed a special seat and foot-stretchers for me to make up for my distinctly non-classical-oarsman anatomy. Since he was not even my coach (Parker coached the heavyweights), I especially appreciated his generous interest and his time.
But beyond being an extraordinary coach, Harry was the epitome of the kind of mentor we would all be fortunate to have in our formative years. It is worthwhile to recall how Harry and all the coaches I encountered at Harvard treated us all with respect and dignity. We were never subjected to abusive language or punishment. Instead we were tutored and nourished and inspired to be the best we could be. And Harry’s record — as well as Harvard’s — speaks for itself.
Harry will be missed, and 51 years of Harvard’s crews will remember him with profound gratitude for all that he gave us.