Some of you may not remember Harry, but for several generations of rugby players, he was a fixture at games in Princeton for more than 50 years.
For several decades, Harry Langenberg personally hosted an ‘all hands’ rugby party in the squash courts that used to be behind Colonial Club, where he originally was a member. All rugby players and supporters and the opposing team were invited to join in cocktails, beer, a full dinner complete with liveried waiters, singing and his famous ‘tugboat annie’ tug of war. Many of these evenings were the stuff of legend.
When Colonial was convinced by the University to tear down what Harry called “Fort Squash” as unsafe, he petitioned the board of governors of Tiger Inn (where many rugby players then belonged and where Harry’s father and uncle had been members) for membership and was promptly admitted.
Another lasting contribution of Harry’s was his personal design and purchase of the seemingly endless supply of distinctive (some might say, ‘ghastly’) and indestructible rugby ties that are still given to the men’s team at the Senior Recognition Party each Reunions.
Harry was a part of the first Flying Tigers rugby tour, to England in 1974, insisting only that he be permitted to play in (at least part of) the games. This was when he was in his late 60’s. Were it not for Harry, there would not have been a ‘Doc Whittton Cup’ for the alumni and undergrads to contest at Reunions, as Harry was one of several undergrads who convinced Professor Whitton to coach the early rugby teams (he continued to do so into the 1960’s). I vividly recall playing with Harry in the Doc Whitton Cup match on the occasion of his 60th Reunion in 1991. He was 80 years old at the time and still insisted on playing hooker.
As Peter Hamilton points out, among many other things, “Langenberg was also the founder of the Ramblers Rugby Club as well as the Missouri Rugby Football Union. He served the rugby community in St. Louis for more than 70 years. Harry is the namesake of Langenberg field in Forest Park and the MRFU sponsors the Langenberg Cup each year which is for the Men’s Collegiate Championship. Harry has been nominated for induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to rugby. He will be greatly missed by the rugby community.”
I was fortunate to visit with him in July 2005, when I was in St. Louis. Although immobilized by a bad hip, his mind was clear and we spent several hours telling rugby stories and remembering players and plays from across the history of Princeton Rugby. He repeated to me his continuing support for both the Men’s and Women’s teams and was delighted to hear about their recent resurgence. Princeton Rugby knew no finer friend; we should find a suitable way to remember him. (One way would to collect some photos of him to bind into a commemorative book or show at the Double Jubiliee.)
Harry Lagenberg 31′, the staunchest supporter of Princeton Rugby, and the last surviving co-founders of the team, Harry Langenberg ’31, died peacefully on September 15, 2005 in St. Louis. Harry was 96 years old.