Howard Head

March 05, 1991

A special place in heaven is reserved for Howard Head. It is attained by ski lift, and resounds to the joyful smack of tennis balls.

The legend of this man is well-known: How he applied aeronautical engineering skills to design a lightweight, flexible ski on which he might stay upright all the way down the slope, thus revolutionizing the sport and sporting equipment.

And how he did it again on the tennis court, quadrupling the size of the portion of the racket that would hit the ball well, and changing forever the shape of the game.

Howard Head is remembered here as a conscientious Baltimorean, a dedicated philanthropist and supporter of the arts. It is fortunate that Center Stage dedicated its new Head Theater before his death Sunday at 76 after heart surgery.

The brilliance of this man's work relieved millions of people of the anxiety that comes from failure to enjoy what is officially designated as recreation. Wherever slopes are negotiated by the awkward, and balls smashed for winners by the unsteady, gratitude is owed Howard Head. He was a true benefactor of humanity, one of the few of whom it may ever be said: He left people happier than he found them.

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