Harry Newhard, inventor of one of the first anti-entrapment
drain covers, died in St. Louis Oct. 20 after briefly suffering
with cancer. He was 82.
The founder of St. Louis-based manufacturer World Wide Sports
was a Korean war veteran and a graduate of Brown University, where
he received a degree in business.
He spent 40 years working in finance, primarily with the St.
Louis firm Newhard, Cook and Co., where he reached the post of
president. But eventually an old passion grabbed hold of Newhard
and he embarked in a new direction. He had been a competitive
swimmer as a young man, nearly qualifying for the Olympics in the
early 1950s. So, after leaving the investment world, he decided to
try his hand inventing pool products, starting with an automatic
cleaner. “He was a tinkerer, and he loved art and
design,” said his son, Penn Newhard.
When Newhard learned of the phenomenon of suction entrapment in
pools and spas, he made it his mission to find a solution. He
released the Star 100, then termed an anti-vortex cover.
“He saw an opportunity to solve a problem that had a
negative impact on a number of people’s lives on an annual
basis,” Penn Newhard said.
Newhard participated in several standards-writing groups
addressing pool safety, and was known among peers for getting down
to brass tacks on topics. “He would sit down and study
something, and then turn it into math,” said Ron Schroader,
principal of Drainsafe/New Water Solutions in Lake Worth, Fla.
“He’s the one who figured out the open area, how to
slow the velocity of the water down so there wasn’t
turbulence on the underside of the cover. Nobody else was really
Schroader added that when talk veered off course at
standards-development meetings, Newhard was quick to chime in.
“Harry always said ‘How does that save a kid’s
life?’” Schroader recalled. “He was to the
Last year, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission narrowed
the definition of an unblockable drain in the Virginia Graeme Baker
Pool and Spa Safety Act, Newhard spearheaded an effort to broaden
the allowances, which has involved talks with the Senate and the
White House and continue forward.
“He was unstoppable and tireless,” said Walt
Sanders, vice president of law and government affairs at
Alexandria, Va.-based Van Fleet Associates, who worked for New-hard
in helping the coalition obtain talks with key government
officials. “He was a very intelligent, knowledgeable, sharp
individual. [I’ll remember] his vitality, his tireless
efforts and his wit.”
World Wide Sports now will be headed by Penn Newhard as
president. Newhard’s daughter, Gigi Newhard Mortimer, also
will be involved with the company.
Besides his two children, Newhard is survived by seven
grandchildren, a sister and brother.