LAKE PLACID - Howard E. Page, 97, passed away May 11, 2012, at his home at Saranac Village at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake.
Howard was born in Greene in 1914 to Hazel and Erford B. Page. He was one of six brothers and a sister who grew up as hard working subsistence farmers near Afton. Howard and his brothers were gifted athletes who made up the core of high school teams in basketball and baseball that dominated sports in the Binghamton area for years. His athletic prowess and personal talents endeared him to his high school coach Tubby Crane who convinced him to enroll at Cortland State Teachers College and paid for his first two years to be sure he was able to attend. Howard was the first in his family to ever achieve a college education.
While at Cortland he continued to excel as a student and as an athlete in the sports of soccer, basketball and baseball. During summers he played on semi-professional baseball teams, competing throughout New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario. He attracted the attention of a professional baseball scout for the New York Yankees and played for several summers in their farm system, developing an undying loyalty and enthusiasm for Yankee baseball.
While away on a college baseball team trip in 1935, a representative of Lake Placid High School contacted Cortland in search of a physical education teacher. The Cortland College president thought Howard would be ideal for the position and signed him up for the job. He returned from the game to discover that he was moving to Lake Placid to assume a position as a PE teacher and coach. A phone call might have been nice - but alas, Howard was never big on cell phones or that technology stuff.
Howard started teaching in a large gymnasium separated into two sections by a barrier of folding doors. He taught the boys on one side and his colleague Emily Jane "Pop" Warner taught girls PE on the other side. It wasn't long until the doors were opened, co-ed PE was instituted for the first time in the school, and Howard and Jane were married on June 28, 1939.
Howard went on to earn a master's degree in School Administration in 1942 from Syracuse University. During a 33-year career at Lake Placid High School he coached nearly every boys sport, experiencing "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" with generations of Lake Placid youth. Ultimately, he moved into school administration, serving as Assistant Principal. He was known as a great coach, a steady leader and a fair but firm disciplinarian.
Howard was proud of his community involvements and leadership. He was a longtime member and former president of the Lake Placid Lions Club. He was a Master Mason at the Lake Placid Masonic Lodge #834 F&AM. He served as a member of the Vestry and was a former Senior Warden at St. Eustace Episcopal Church. He was inducted into the Lake Placid Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his coaching prowess and contribution to the development of Lake Placid youth through sport programs.
He loved golfing at Craig Wood and fishing with friends and family in top-secret Adirondack beaver ponds and hidden lakes. He was very proud of the leadership role he played in replacing the Craig Wood Club House with the current fine edifice.
One of his life's constant pursuits and major passions was duplicate bridge. He was a Life Gold Master with more than 2,500 Master Points. He helped to form the Saranac Lake Duplicate Bridge Club and was competing at a high level against his bridge friends until a few days before his death.
Howard owned and operated several small businesses, developing and distributing postal cards promoting the Lake Placid area and providing Christmas and greeting cards for high school class fundraising projects in northern New York state. In his later years, he committed himself to raising money for St. Eustace Church by picking and selling strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Accepting a challenge from the minister to the congregation 15 years ago to "take 10 dollars from the coffers and to multiply it tenfold," he returned more than $10,000 to the church in berry picking profits over the subsequent years.
He is preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Jane Page; four brothers: Frank, Kenyon, Bernard and Merlin Page; and a sister, Marion.
He is survived by one brother, Morris Page, 92, of Clinton; his two children: Jim Page, 70, of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Georgia Stevens, 66, of Pultneyville; three grandchildren: Jennifer Page, 48, of Telluride, Colo., Heidi Page, 47, of Cupertino, Calif., and Jim Page, 43, of Beijing, China; and four great-grandchildren: Page McCargo, 23, of San Francisco, Calif., Keaton McCargo, 16, and Sydney Martin, 4, of Telluride, Colo., and Chloe Page, 8, of Beijing, China.
In an increasingly complex world, Howard was an uncomplicated man who lived a full life committed to his community, his church and his family. He was an athlete, a coach and a sportsman, proud of the community's sports heritage and inspired by its Olympic traditions. He was a quietly spiritual man who was guided and nourished by his Episcopal faith. And he was a generous father, grandfather, brother and husband who urged all to love, support and be loyal to one another. His goal was to be a positive force for change and improvement, and in that he succeeded in spades.
A service to honor his life will be held in conjunction with a pre-planned family reunion at 2 p.m. June 29 at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid. A reception for all who would like to gather to remember his life and times will follow at 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers and in order to support some of those who support us all so well, the family asks that donations be made in Howard's name to High Peaks Hospice, P.O. Box 840, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. The Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid is in charge of arrangements.