Harry Kanter holds a special place in Chelsea High School sports annals. He was a starting forward for the 1938 state champion CHS basketball team, one of the few teams in Chelsea to ever win a state title.
Harry Kanter, who passed away on Sept. 15 at the age of 94, never strayed from his affinity toward basketball. He carried that passion with him through the golden eras of the Bill Russell-led Celtics and the Larry Bird-led Celtics. His love of the Celtics never wavered even during some of the less glorious years for the historic franchise.
“My father talked about his basketball playing all the time,” said his son, Paul Kanter. “Sports was huge in his life. Baseball and basketball were the biggest things but his big love was basketball. You could call him a No. 1 Celtics fan. My father took my brother Alan and me to just about every Celtics game and there was a Chelsea section at the Garden in those days.”
The Kanter boys, Alan and Paul, would give their father, Harry, and their mother, Laura, considerable joy and fond memories themselves in their youth and high school athletic careers. Both Alan and Paul played basketball for the Carter Junior High School and Chelsea High School teams.
“My father was always at our games and you could hear him yelling at the referees,” said Paul, who played three years of varsity basketball at Chelsea High.
Besides basketball, the other topic that Harry Kanter often spoke about with pride and patriotism was his service during World War II in the medical unit of the Third Army with the legendary U.S. Army General George Patton.
“My father was a food doctor medic,” said Paul Kanter. “His favorite story was that he was on the wrong side of the Rhine River. Everybody was supposed to be on one side and all of sudden he was on the other side and they were almost surrounded but they got out.”
Harry and Laura Kanter shared 65 years of marriage. They were inseparable as a couple. The Kanter family enjoyed family get-togethers on special occasions and holidays. The discussion would often revolve around sports.
“My father loved to talk sports,” said Paul Kanter. “He was very vocal whether he was at the Celtics games or watching them on television. When he was watching on TV, he basically thought they could hear him screaming and yelling.”
But in his home life, Harry Kanter was a very laid-back, lovable guy. He loved spending time with his beloved wife, Laura, his family, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren.
“His family was first and foremost with Number 1 being, of course, my mother,” said Paul Kanter. “They were a great couple, very, very close. They were devoted, did everything together and went everywhere together. My father was president of the Y.M.H.A. and he was very involved with Temple Emmanuel and the Jewish War Veterans. And my mother was by his side, supportive all the way as he was to her as well.”
Harry Kanter worked in various sales and management jobs and then had the opportunity to work at Syratech, where his two sons held positions.
“My father used to bring us lunch every day,” said Paul. “He just loved spending time with us, so we got to see him all the time.”
Alan and Paul Kanter learned lifelong lessons from their father, carrying those teachings about honesty, integrity, and kindness into their highly successful careers in business.
“He taught us to always work hard and be dedicated,” said Paul. “We both started working at Leonard Silver [owned by Leonard Florence]. My brother started two years before I did.”
Paul is currently the senior vice president of sales at Lifetime Brand while Alan owns a business, ABCs of Home Décor. They are not only success stories but role models to their children.
“We were as close as sons and a father could be,” said Paul Kanter. “My father had a wonderful life, 94 great years, a gentleman to the end. He was very kind. He always put others first before himself. I celebrate his life knowing that he had a lot of good years and that he was well-loved and loved everybody to the end.”
Grandsons Jason Kanter, a graduate of Connecticut College who holds a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Josh Kanter, a senior at Franklin and Marshall, and Jonathan Kanter delivered, beautiful, touching eulogies at a funeral service at Temple Emmanuel.
Granddaughters Stacy Kanter Stevens, Jillian Kanter, and Alyssa Kanter, read poems in honor of their grandfather.
Laura Kanter said it’s been a difficult time, adjusting to life without her amazing husband who brought love and joy into so many people’s lives.
“I have great memories,” said Laura Kanter. “That’s what has been keeping me going.”