Samuel Purdy Howe III, 7/14/38-9/15/22, Hall of Fame Squash Player And Multiple-Times US Squash National Singles and Doubles Champion   
by Rob Dinerman

Dateline September 15, 2022 --- We at DSR are sad to report that Sam "Sunny" Howe, a racquet-sports legend who starred in squash, court tennis and tennis and the highlights of whose squash career were the U. S. National Singles titles that he won in 1962 and 1967 (with three other final-round advances as well) and the U. S. National Doubles championships that he won three times each with Bill Danforth (in 1963, 1964 and 1967) and his younger brother Ralph (from 1969-71), died early Thursday morning following a month-long hospitalization. He was 84 years old.

As one of the highest-achieving products of the famed Merion Cricket Club junior program that churned out so many national-championship players for several decades during the middle part of the 20th Century, Sam Howe was known for his fluid, classic strokes, deadly short game and level-headed demeanor. The Howe family lived less than 100 yards away from Merion during Sam's childhood years. As a star high-school athlete at Haverford School (also located easy walking distance from Merion), Sam Howe led his teammates to Inter-Ac league squash and tennis championships in both his junior and senior years during the mid-1950's, following which he played No. 1 during his entire varsity squash career at Yale, reaching the finals of the Intercollegiate Individual tournament in both his junior and senior years and leading the Elis as a sophomore to the 1958 Ivy League title and as a junior to the 1959 USSRA National Five-Man Team Championship. He also played an important role on Yale tennis teams that won the EITA title (the equivalent of the Ivy League championship) in 1959 and 1960 and were led at the top of the lineup by future International Tennis Hall of Famers Gene Scott (Howe's doubles partner) and Donald Dell.

Between them, Ralph and Sam Howe dominated amateur squash throughout the decade of the 1960's and into the early 1970's, with the 1967-68 season being the only one in the period from 1962-71 in which neither of them won either the U. S. National Singles or Doubles or both. In 1962 Ralph won the Intercollegiate Individuals (for the first of two-straight years) and Sam, trailing Ben Heckscher 2-0, 9-7 in the final, rallied to win the U. S. National Singles crown. In 1963 Sam and Danforth won the U. S. National Doubles, then successfully defended that title (18-17 in the fifth in their final-round win over Claude Beer and Kit Spahr) in 1964, the same year in which Ralph won the U. S. National Singles over Henri Salaun. Ralph Howe and Diehl Mateer then won the U. S. National Doubles in 1965 and 1966, beating Sam Howe and Danforth both years in the finals.

The two teams met for the third straight year in the 1967 U. S. National Doubles final, but that match ended prematurely when Mateer ruptured his left Achilles tendon late in the first game. Since Sam Howe had won both the U. S.  National Singles and Canadian National Singles and Doubles tournaments earlier that winter, he became the first player ever to win both the U. S. and Canadian National Singles and Doubles titles ---- dubbed squash's Grand Slam --- in the same year, a feat that has never been equaled. Also during the 1966-67 season, Ralph and Sam Howe met in the final round of the historically pro-dominated North American Open, with Ralph winning, 15-13 in the fifth. It was the only time in the 15-year period from 1960-74 that the tournament was won by someone other than a member of the extended Khan clan, and during the 27 remaining years in which the North American Open was played after 1967 (the 1994 edition being its swan song in deference to the degree to which the softball game had taken over by that juncture), there would be a "sibling final" only one more time, when Sharif straight-gamed his younger brother Aziz in 1981.

After competing against each other in U. S. National Doubles play for more than a half-decade, the Howe brothers teamed up to win the tournament three straight years from 1969-71, during the first two years of which Sam Howe also reached the finals of the U.S. National Singles, losing both times in a five-game final to Anil Nayar. Although total-replacement operations to both hips sidelined Sam Howe for close to 20 years starting in the mid-1970’s and extending through most of the decade of the 1980’s, he marked the silver anniversary of his last U. S. National Doubles championship at the Open level in 1971 by teaming with Jim Zug to win the 1996 U. S. National Doubles 55-and-over title, with age-group national squash doubles titles to follow in 2001 (the Canadian 60-and-over) with Chris Pickwoad and in 2004 (the U. S. 65-and-over) with Don Mills, whom Sam Howe also partnered to the 65's World Doubles crown later that spring.

Two years earlier Ralph and Sam Howe had been inducted into the U. S. Squash Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2002, along with four-time (1938, 1941, 1942 and 1948) U. S. National women's champion Cecile Bowes. In 2021 the Howe brothers were inducted, also jointly, into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame. They are the only two people who are members of the Hall of Fame in both of those sports, and a racquet-sports biography of the Howe brothers titled Brothers & Champions: Ralph And Sam Howe--Stories From The Golden Age Of Racquet Sports is due to be released later this autumn.

In addition to his extraordinary multiple-front accomplishments, Sam Howe was a beloved figure throughout the racquet-sports community, known for his dignity, generosity and class. Upon receiving the somber news, Ned Edwards, the Executive Director of the Specter Center and a U. S. Squash Hall of Famer himself, described Sam Howe as “a terrific man, gentle, smart, funny, interested in others and so humble about his own outstanding achievements, life and career. Sam Howe was a treasure.”

1969 U. S. National Doubles Champions Ralph And Sam Howe, Finalists David Pemberton-Smith And Ian McAvity Flank Tournament Officials

Sam Howe Receiving The Trophy From Seymour Knox After Winning The 1962 U. S. National Singles As Finalist Ben Heckscher Looks On

Germain Glidden With Sam Howe After Howe Won The 1967 U. S. Nationals

Bill Danforth And Sam Howe After Winning The 1963 U. S. National Doubles

photos credit: US Squash