Dr. Arthur W. Howard, a former coach of Indian athletics team and also the first Deputy Director of the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, passed away on Monday in his home town in Warsaw, Indiana, USA. He was 96.
The information came in the form of an email message from his son Dale Howard to those who were associated with him here.
Dr. Howard was a Methodist missionary in India from 1944 to 1977 before he left for the US. In between, when the country gained Independence in 1947, the Government sought his services on the committee that drafted the physical education syllabus to be followed by various institutions in the country.
The former National Coach in athletics, J.S. Saini, talking from his Patiala residence on Tuesday, fondly recalled Dr Howard's contribution to the NIS, from the time it was established in 1961 till the time he left in the 1970s, and to Indian athletics from the 1950s.
“He was the first Deputy Director of the NIS under Lt Gen Sant Singh who was then the Director,” Saini said.
It was under Dr Howard that the NIS, which recently celebrated its Golden Jubilee, set up its first ad hoc course in athletics.
“He was an outstanding athletics coach also, though he had started off as a basketballer in his younger days,” Saini said. Dr. Howard was the chief athletics coach for the ad hoc course.
“He was a very good teacher also,” the former National coach said, acknowledging the man's role in shaping the careers of many a coach to come out of the NIS stable.
Dr. Howard had moved from Christian College, Lucknow, to the NIS in 1961 after having been with the National athletics team since 1954.
In 1958 he was the coach of the Indian team that competed in the Commonwealth Games (then the Empire Games) in Cardiff, and thus also contributed to Milkha Singh winning the 440 yards gold, the first ever athletics gold — the only one till the Delhi edition — for the country.
Two years ago, when he visited India along with his son, Dr. Howard made a trip to the NIS, Patiala, and then went to Chandigarh to meet Milkha. The ‘Flying Sikh' readily acknowledged the American coach's valuable tips in his final preparations for the Cardiff event.
“Though very old when he had another look at the NIS, where he had done pioneering work, he showed how fit he was by climbing the stairs at the swimming pool,” said Saini with a touch of sadness that his former teacher and guide was no more.
Saini said that he, the late Ken Bossen, C.M. Muthiah and Jagmohan Singh, among a whole lot of Indian athletics coaches of that era, had benefited immensely from the teaching of Dr. Howard.