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Saturday November 28, 2009

As bowman, he led Canada to an Olympic rowing silver medal

Special to The Globe and Mail

VICTORIA -- Philip Kueber rowed as bow man of the fabled eight-man Cinderella crew that won a silver medal for Canada at the 1956 Olympic Games.

The Canadian crew battled the American eight along the 2,000-metre course at Ballarat, Australia. The Americans, a crew from Yale University, pulled ahead to win the gold medal by three-quarters of a shell length. The Australian team finished third.

Mr. Kueber and his teammates had earned the Cinderella nickname two years earlier when they shocked the rowing world by claiming the gold medal at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

The inexperienced team, comprised of students from the University of British Columbia under the guidance of coach Frank Read, beat a favoured English shell by 2½ lengths on the Vedder Canal, east of Vancouver. The unexpected victory by an untested team with an unorthodox style was Canada's first ever victory in an Empire Games regatta. Mr. Kueber was the team's spare.

By 1955, he had taken his position in the bow, helping UBC knock off a favoured Soviet team at the Henley Royal Regatta in a Cold War showdown. The Canadian crew then finished second in the Grand Challenge Cup final to the University of Pennsylvania.

As a freshman student in Vancouver, Mr. Kueber signed up for the rowing program after seeing a recruitment poster. He earned a commerce degree before completing a law degree in 1958.

He practised corporate and securities law for 35 years, becoming a partner at Howard Mackie in Calgary.

He was a founder and first president of the Calgary Rowing Club, also serving as an executive for the Alberta Rowing Association and the Alberta Gymnastics Federation. He spent 15 years as a director of the Alberta Sports Council.

A fan of thoroughbred horse racing, he once owned a share of a stable.

In the 1971 Alberta provincial election, he ran as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Calgary McKnight, finishing a distant fourth.

The crews for which Mr. Kueber rowed have been inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame.


Philip Thomas Kueber was born on Nov. 17, 1934, at Galahad, Alta. He died of heart failure on Monday at Victoria. He was 75. He leaves his wife, Roswitha, their two daughters;,three stepsons, two sons and two daughters from his first marriage to the former Eleanor Kepper. He also leaves eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by a sister and three brothers.

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