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Keeper of the

Keeper of theA thirty-year member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors, Tufts graduate Harold Zimman played a major role in the Game's growth. Marblehead, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.08.02] During the last forty years of his life, Harold Zimman only missed two Olympic Games. The 1938 Tufts graduate dedicated his life to the international sporting event, gaining the reputation as the "conscience of the Olympic Games." His tireless work had an important impact on the Games, earning him the Olympics' highest honor and its lasting gratitude.

"When you talk about giving back and serving and the volunteer mentality, [Zimman] was the embodiment of all that," Dr. LeRoy Walker, the former president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, told the New York Times.

For over 20 years, Zimman served on the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee [USOC] and was responsible for shaping and improving the Games as they evolved in the 1970s and 1980s.

"He was a source of reason in the USOC, for many years a conservative organization that allowed little input from athletes or the federations that governed the individual sports," reported the Times. "After the 1972 Olympics, he was one of the USOC's few progressives who saw the need for dialogue with athletes, and he helped implement the change that revolutionized the organization."

As a founder of the U.S. committee "Sports For Israel," Zimman lobbied successfully for the inclusion of Israel in the membership of the international Olympic community, enabling the newly established country to participate in the 1952 Games just four years after it was founded.

"In many ways, he was the conscience of the Olympic committee," USOC official Charles Foster told the Times. "He always raised important questions about the direction of the Olympic movement. If he thought we were off the path, he got us back on."

Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch -- former president of the International Olympic Committee, described Zimman an one of the Olympic movement's important figures. In 1993, Samaranch presented the Tufts graduate with the Olympics' highest honor -- the Olympic Order.

"Only 28 Americans have ever received that award, and most were high-profile people like the track and field athletes Jesse Owens and Al Oerter, and the Olympic filmmaker, Bud Greenspan," reported the Times.

Zimman was the first non-athlete or sports leader to ever receive the honor.

"Harold was a true amateur sportsman," Greenspan told the Times. "He loved the Olympics and gave them almost undivided attention. Nobody gave more and received so little recognition."

But the Tufts graduate didn't need recognition -- just the opportunity to spread his love for sports.

An offensive lineman and captain of the football team at Tufts, where the football field is named in his honor, Zimman also had a huge love for tennis.

He volunteered for the United States Tennis Association for over 40 years.

"He was very human, very approachable," Bud Collins -- a tennis commentator and sports columnist told the Times. "In tennis, he would take some president by the elbow and have a heart to heart with him, always offering a voice of reason. He really had the good of the game -- whatever the game -- at heart."

Zimman died in 1994, at the age of 78.

Photos courtesy of Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University

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