History of NRF
W. Hart Perry
The NRF mourns the loss of our Executive Director, Hart Perry. Tribute written by Ed Hewitt of Row2k
In Memory: Hart Perry passes ~ February 3, 2011
W. Hart Perry, perhaps American rowing’s true patriarch, passed away today, February 3 2011; Hart was 78 years old. Along with his wife Gill, Hart’s service to rowing touched truly thousands of lives, from every single person on any US team from juniors to the Olympics for decades now, to any American rower or coach who competed at Henley, and beyond. The loss to rowing in the United States and abroad is immense; Hart’s shoes will not be filled anytime soon. Today Hart has already been recalled as godfather to the National Team, the Dean of American rowing, a titan, and a giant, to which I would also add, significantly and remarkably, a gentleman, perhaps one of his most unusual and characteristic traits.
Hart has touched more lives in the sport of rowing than anyone I can think of, and most of those folks are not even aware that he helped them, which just speaks again to Hart’s character and selfless work on behalf of others. If you have ever been on a National Team, or even almost been on a National Team, Hart has probably helped you in some way.
Hart was one of, if not the the most important, stalwart, committed, selfless, and effective individuals in American rowing in the past several decades. Involved with rowing continuously since taking up the sport in 1947, to his last days Hart remained an active supporter and participant at Kent School, Dartmouth,the Rowing Hall of Fame at Mystic Seaport, USRowing (Hart was former president of the NAAO, the predecessor to USRowing), FISA, as a referee, as a Henley Steward (appointed in 1974, he was the first and for many years only non-British Henley Steward) , and of course crucially in the lead at the National Rowing Foundation. This past year, he won USRowing’s Medal of Honor, and FISA’s Distinguished Service Award.
We lost an extraordinary man today, and our hearts and gratitude go out to his family, especially his wife Gill, who was an instrumental part of everything he has accomplished – that they accomplished together – for the past several years. Hart and Gill have touched thousands of lives both in the US and abroad, and as much as they are loved and appreciated, few know really how much you they have done for all of us. It is a huge loss for rowing, and for all of us so tremendously lucky to have Hart as a friend.
The outpouring of love and appreciation for Hart and Gill will be formidable; one can only hope that Hart will sense and feel a little of it. Rest in peace Hart, and thank you for everything.