A memorial service for Arthur Francis "Reds" Hucht, who coached swimmers for more than 50 years, will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at Calvert Hall College High School.
Mr. Hucht, who was 95, died of a stroke Tuesday at his daughter's home in Spotsylvania, Va.
"He was a fascinating man, a one-of-a-kind guy, independent and strong-willed," said former Evening Sun sports editor Bill Tanton, who first met Mr. Hucht in 1956.
Born in Baltimore in 1916, and raised on Chester Street, he began swimming as a boy and competed in Playground Athletic League events. Because of his red hair, sports writers called him Reds. As a young man he often ran along city streets to keep in shape.
He joined a Knights of Columbus team and swam competitively at the Alcazar's old basement pool on Cathedral Street. The building is now the Baltimore School for the Arts.
In August 1936 he broke a 100-yard breast-stroke record at a South Atlantic Swimming Championship held at the old Lakewood Pool at Charles and 25th streets. On Labor Day weekend in 1939 he placed third in an eight-mile swim across the Chesapeake Bay from Tolchester in Kent County to the old Bay Shore Park near Sparrows Point in Baltimore County.
"It was quite a feat," said his sister-in-law, Shirley Geddes of Parkville. "When he came out of the water, he looked like a lobster."
Mr. Hucht enrolled at and swam for Polytechnic Institute, but when the school gave up its swimming program he moved to Calvert Hall College High School, where he was team captain and won two Maryland Scholastic Association breast-stroke competitions. During World War II he served in the U.S. Merchant Marines and often swam ashore to ports where he called.
In 1940 he was named Knights of Columbus athletic director. He also held coaching jobs at Mount Saint Joseph High School and Loyola College.
A Sun story said that when he retired as swim coach from Calvert Hall in 1997 at age 80, he was the oldest head coach in any sport in metropolitan Baltimore. He started coaching at Calvert Hall in 1960. "His no-nonsense approach to swimming produced 23 Maryland Scholastic Association championships," the article said.
At his retirement, Mr. Hucht said that to win, his students had to train year-round. "These kids would rather ski or have some social activity than swim," he told the Sun reporter. "I don't want a social club. I'm in this to win. I'm not enjoying this. These kids just won't train year-round. To be competitive, you have to."
Friends at the school recalled that when The Sun published an article about him on his 80th birthday, teachers and staffers offering congratulations finally found him on the football field with a truckload of lumber, repairing the stands. Mr. Hucht kept a woodworking shop near the pool, later named from him, and often outfitted offices and made furniture for the school.
Friends said he was a talented carpenter and often built bookshelves and decks. He said the physical activity kept him in shape.
In the summer, beginning in the 1950s, Mr. Hucht joined a friend, Mickey Pardew, at the Knights of Columbus-Orchards pool on East Joppa Road. Mr. Hucht ran a summer program there coaching young swimmers.
"He never took money for his work as a coach at Orchards. That way, he was free of the influence of the parents and could run the show his way," said Mr. Tanton, the former sports editor. "He was a master psychologist and could get his swimmers to do their best."
Brother Kevin Strong, Calvert Hall's president from 1990 to 2000, said Mr. Hucht "was a great man. He was here almost every waking minute. His devotion to the school was amazing. He was humble, intelligent, and a devoted coach. He was also an abstemious man, a vegetarian."
Survivors include a son, Dennis Hucht of Glenwood; three daughters, Stephanie Brooks of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Sallye A. Hord of Spotsylvania, Va., and Wendy Lanahan of Chula Vista, Calif.; 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. A son, Christopher Hucht, died in 2006. His wife of 65 years, Wanda Hohman, died in 2010.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun