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In Memory: W. Hart Perry

February 03, 2011

National Rowing Foundation Executive Director W. Hart Perry, 77, passed away on Thursday afternoon, February 3. USRowing would like to offer its deepest sympathies to Perry’s family and friends.

Through his tireless work with the NRF, Perry was a great friend to the rowing community and instrumental in the success of hundreds of Olympic, senior national team and junior national team rowers for the better part of three decades.

Perry began rowing at Noble and Greenough School in 1947 and then at Dartmouth College in 1951-52 before moving into the coaching ranks. During his career, he held numerous coaching positions, working with Darmouth College, Iolanni School, Kent School, Clare College, Magdalen College, Litchfield Rowing Association and the United States Coast Guard Academy.

As an official, Perry worked 18 World Rowing Junior Championships, 10 World Rowing Championships and two Olympic Games. In 1974, he became the first non-British citizen to be elected a steward of the Henley Royal Regatta.

In addition to his position at the NRF, Perry served as a steward at the Henley Royal Regatta, adjunct curator for rowing at Mystic Seaport and chairman emeritus of Friends of Dartmouth Rowing.

A past president of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen, the predecessor to USRowing, he received numerous awards and honors including USRowing’s Medal of Honor (2009), Jack Kelly, John Carlin and Jack Franklin awards. He was inducted into the National Rowing Hall of Fame, Dartmouth Rowing Hall of Fame, Wearers of the Green (Dartmouth Athletics) and the Kent School Athletic Hall of Fame. And less than two weeks ago, he was honored by FISA, the international rowing federation, with the 2010 World Rowing Distinguished Service to Rowing Award.

Perry is survived by his wife, Gillian; his five children, William Hartwell Perry III of Wellesley, Mass., Theodore McCord Perry of Dedham, Mass., Alissa Perry Gumprecht of Rangeley, Maine, Alexandra Sykes Mills of Southborough, Mass., and Colin Macrae Sykes of Seattle, Wash.; and his 12 grandchildren, William, Tom, Mac, Ilona, Charlie, Samantha, Oliver, Lexi, Christopher, Wyatt, Stewart and Sydney.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the National Rowing Foundation (www.natrowing.org) or to any other favorite charity in his name.

A funeral for family, friends, and close associates is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, at Calvary Church in Stonington. A larger memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at St. Joseph's Chapel at Kent School in Kent.

Brett Johnson

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