31 March 2021
By Bill Miller
Rowing historian Bill Miller* writes about his friend Larry Gluckman, who died yesterday, 30 March, aged 74.
As a Northeastern freshman in the fall of 1964, Larry’s love of basketball led him to the team tryouts. It didn’t work out, so he set his sights on a new sport – crew. All the freshman candidates were novices so Larry’s late start in October put him well behind his novice teammates. The result was he missed securing a seat in the 1965 1st Freshman Eight.
I joined the crew in September 1965. Already, Larry was pushing himself to move up into the varsity squad. His effort earned him a seat in the 1966 1st Varsity Eight.
In the summer of 1967, Larry travelled to Philadelphia to join the Vesper Boat Club racing group. He secured a seat in their coxless four that earned the right to represent the USA at the Vichy European Championship. Vesper won the bronze medal. In less than 18 months, Larry went from 2nd freshman crew to 1st varsity eight, to U.S. national champion, to 3rd place in the World. He was the master of hard work.
Back at Northeastern in 1968, Larry was chosen by his teammates to be their captain. His work ethic pushed the entire squad to achieve a higher level of success. During this year, he met the love of his life, Sara, a student and cheerleader at Northeastern.
Following graduation, Larry and Sara joined President Kennedy’s Peace Corps and shipped off to Brazil to help the needy. On their return, Larry entered Columbia to earn his master’s degree in Special Education and also grabbed a megaphone to coach the University crew.
College coaching was Larry’s destination. He became freshman coach at Northeastern University and successfully guided his crew to become Sprints champions. His coaching career continued with head coaching positions at Princeton and then Dartmouth, each time lifting the program to the championship level.
In the fall of 1972, his Northeastern coach, Ernie Arlett, planted the idea to put together an NU alumni crew to race at Henley Royal Regatta. Eight alumni joined the effort and trained through the winter. Larry was the one who pushed the others to do one more set of weights, squeeze one extra rep, and run the stairs a little faster. The group was paired down to four rowers and a coxswain. The extra work paid off as the Northeastern Alumni coxed-four won the 1973 Prince Philip Cup (international coxed fours) setting all three course records. Later that summer, Larry earned a seat in the USA National Eight that raced at the Moscow European Championships. This was the last year before the championships were permanently called the World Championships.
Northern New England was where he enjoyed life, so he and Sara settled in Glover, Vermont. They shared the northern life with their three young daughters, Meg, Kate and Anna. Snowshoeing was one of his favorite activities in the Northeast Kingdom.
In 1979, a group of former national team personnel formed the Motley Boat Club with the intention of racing annually at the Head of the Charles Regatta and other masters’ events. Larry was a founding member and raced in the crew every year until he retired from racing in 2017.
Larry retired from coaching at Dartmouth and joined the Concept2 management team where he was always called “Coach”. But being away from the megaphone was too difficult and after a successful time at Concept2, he came out of retirement to take the head coach position at Trinity College in Harford, Connecticut. Once again, he shot the program to championship level and captured the 2005 Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
Along with the Trinity effort, Larry was a master coach for school rowers at Northeast Rowing Center with many top coaches such as Steve Gladstone, Curtis Jordan, Harry Parker, Liz O’Leary and many others. The kids loved him!
Larry retired from college coaching after his time at Trinity, but he wasn’t finished behind the megaphone. Annually, he stopped in at the Florida Rowing Center and worked with scullers of all ages, novice and experienced. Everyone came away with a larger respect for sculling after their experience with Coach Gluckman. He also coached at the Craftsbury Sculling Center where he developed a group of U.S. Team members who competed at the World Championships and Olympic Games.
For more than 50 years, I watched Larry develop as a successful competitor, successful coach, successful mentor, and most of all, a wonderful husband and father. He dealt with everyone with respect and only asked that they commit to rowing and make a full effort. This he passed on to thousands of aspiring rowers, scullers, coxswains and coaches. Over the next few days, you’ll hear many testimonies, all with deep felt sincerity from dozens and, if space allows, hundreds of his charges.
I always thought Larry was indestructible. It took an unexpected illness to dowse his indomitable spirit.
Larry E. Gluckman, born 1946, died 2021.
*Bill Miller and Larry Gluckman: 1966-1968 Northeastern Crew, 1969 college roommates, member 1973 Northeastern Alumni Henley crew, member 1973 National Eight, Motley Boat Club teammates, BU Head Coach competing with Larry’s Princeton Crews, director Northeast Rowing Center.