The untimely death of Harvey Love, 52, Monday, brought a sudden and regrettable end to an era in Harvard rowing. Together Love, and his predecessor and college coach Thomas D. Bolles gave Harvard many of its finest crews and made the Crimson one of the most feared names in American rowing circles for 26 years.
It began in 1936 when Bolles came to Harvard as the varsity coach from the University of Washington and brought with him Harvey Love, one of his former coxswains, to continue as his freshman coach. When Bolles left coaching in 1951 after a very successful career to become athletic director, Love took over the top position where he stayed for eleven years.
A master of perfection in rowing form, Love played a very big part in Bolles spectacular record. If Bolles didn't concentrate on the mechanics of oarsmanship, it was because Love, as freshman coach, had already drilled the rowers to near perfection before they became upperclassmen. Even when the Harvard crews didn't win they were beautiful to watch.
The Crimson crews did run into some difficult times in the fifties under Love, losing to Yale five times. But something was missing that Harvard had always counted on before--sufficient size. "Given the right king of material," explains Carl Stanley, Love's launch driver for 26 years, "he never would have lost."
Although Love was having a difficult time, he never lost the respect of his oarsmen. "We always felt we were rowing for Harvey more than for Harvard," said a graduate. "He was a little man--a cox--among giants," he continued, "but he could sympathize with the rowers and get the best out of us. He was truly one of the finest men I've known."
Love's careful coaching paid off in 1959, however, with what may have been the very finest of all the crews in Harvard's history. For the first time since 1948 the Crimson went undefeated, beating Yale as it was to do for the next three years, and winning the Comptom Cup, the Eastern Sprint Championships, and finally, the Grand Challange Cup at Henley.
A year later Love just missed qualifying for the Olympics, but he still had, for two more years, the services of Perry Boyden, one of Harvard's finest strokes and one of the few oarsmen Love ever singled out. Even after Boyden's graduation, Harvard remained immensely feared simply because of Love's ability to produce precision crews.
Despite his size, Love commanded respect wherever he went. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the second World War, Love served aboard a destroyer escort in the Pacific Campaign, and was Commander of the ship before the war was over.
"I still can't believe it's happened," said Stanley referring to Love's unexpected death. "It's a great loss to me," he added. The feeling is much the same at Newell Boat House, and it will be very difficult to replace him. One of the candidates to take over, Bill Leavitt '50, head coach at Rutgers, illustrates Love's valued service of 26 years. Leavitt, too, is a little man--a cox--taught by Love himself.