Harold "Doc" Lovins, shown in an undated photo, established the Herricks...

Harold "Doc" Lovins, shown in an undated photo, established the Herricks High School swim team — all the more notable because the school had no pool. Credit: Lovins family

As director of physical education, health and recreation for Herricks public schools, Harold “Doc” Lovins established the Herricks High School swim team — all the more notable because the school had no pool.

Two students approached him in 1972 with the idea and an outline. Rather than be dismissive or say it could not be done, he worked with then-Herricks High Principal Peter Lawrence to arrange pool-time commitments from schools outside the district. Multiple swim coaches offered to help. Herricks High continues today to offer girls and boys varsity swim teams in its robust roster of athletics.

Lovins’ death from natural causes on Jan. 31 at age 101 in Boynton Beach, Florida, triggered memories from those he helped and mentored, attesting to his passion for creating and organizing programs to give young people access to sports and exercise.

He “had a huge influence on me,” said former student Bruce Temple, of New Hyde Park. “He developed and implemented a fantastic physical education and athletic program and hired superb teachers to run that program. … He made sure that every student who wanted to participate had the opportunity to, by having a no-cut policy for teams.”

Temple, who became a physical education teacher himself, said Lovins “was highly respected by everyone in the physical education community.”

“We had just a lot of laughs skiing and boating,” said his son, Jeff, of Isle of Palms, South Carolina, who confirmed his father’s death. “A very good sense of humor. Very supportive and really motivated me through all my sports,” he said. “He was a big organizer, and so the fact that everything needed to be scheduled — the facilities, the fields, the gymnasiums, all those — appealed to him.”

Harold Herbert Lovins was born in Manhattan on Oct. 17, 1922, and raised in the Bronx, the only child of bus driver Al Lovins and homemaker Fannie Lovins. His mother died when he was young, and his father sent him to live with the boy's aunt and her family in the Bronx. Harold graduated from Stuyvesant High School and went on to Ithaca College, where he played football and obtained a degree in health and physical education

After serving as a program director at the Ithaca YMCA, he began his physical education career at an elementary school in Williston Park in 1944. In 1949 he married Shirley Oestreich, and by 1950 was the physical education director for the Herricks school district.

There his innovations included the creation of a game, VBB, that combined elements of volleyball, baseball and basketball, adaptable for different ages, emphasizing particular skills from each; and overseeing the expansion of girls athletics with the 1970s federal program Title IX.

Scott Fenwick, director of sales training for Hearst Magazines, grew up next door to the Lovins in Roslyn Heights, and said that when he was 9 and his father died, the family offered tangible support. “Money was tough, and he helped my brother, who is nine years older than me, get a job at Piquet Lane,” a swim and tennis club in Woodbury. “We had to get a tenant to rent a room to help cover the cost of the house, and he and his wife helped us find a tenant. They just made sure their next-door neighbor was OK.”

Lovins, who additionally held directorships of local summer programs and wrote for professional publications in his field, retired from the school system in 1982. He went on to become coordinator of sports management at Adelphi University in Garden City. Later, as a certified sailing instructor, he opened Second Love Sailing School with his second wife, Janet Kreisner, following his divorce.

“They loved sailing and teaching sailing because they loved meeting new people,” said his stepson, Richard Kreisner, of Palm City, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia. “They continued doing it for a few years after they said they were going to stop, because it was very important in their lives.”

In addition to his son and stepson, Lovins is survived by a grandson, Jacob Lovins. His wife and ex-wife predeceased him. A small, private memorial in Florida is being planned.

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