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Dr. Harold S. “Shorty” Alterowitz, Class of 1933

Dr. Harold S. “Shorty” Alterowitz, 95, died June 21, 2013, at Spirit Mountain Hospice House.
He was born July 14, 1917, in the Bronx, N.Y. He attended and graduated from Townsend Harris High School and City College of New York with a degree in social sciences. He also earned masters and doctorate of education degrees from Columbia University.

He started his teaching career at a Settlement House in Harlem, N.Y., at age 18 and also taught children at a summer camp in Maryland. His specialty was physical education and sports.

On Aug. 23, 1941, he married Gretchen Heilbrunn and together they enjoyed 32 years of happiness before she passed away.

From 1946-46 he served in the Army and left the service as a captain, having last served as Post Athletic Officer at Fort Bliss, Texas.

From 1946-48 he taught at The Children’s Center in Harlem as recreation director and coach. A special year for the Alterowitz family was 1948 when they moved to Billings where he was to teach and coach basketball at Eastern Montana Normal School.

Throughout the years at Eastern many good things occurred. He was promoted to professor, chairman of the Division of Health and Physical Education, and athletic director.

He was honored by his professional colleagues with election to state, district and national offices, such as president of the Northwest District Association of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He was the Northwest District representative to the national alliance and was a member of the national board of directors of the alliance. He also was selected Poet Laureate of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

At Eastern Montana College he spent his time as a coach and assistant coach of several sports, team trainer and teacher. He developed a course in classroom discipline, and produced workshops in movement education, loneliness and parenting. He created and led a TV show called “Look Like a Million” and founded the Forum for Excellence that sought out and encouraged outstanding eighth-graders in Montana public schools.

A much sought after speaker, he appeared in local state, district, national and international meetings, workshops, seminars, graduations and athletic meetings.

In 1971, Dr. Alterowitz studied and taught in England. That same year his poetry book “Black, White and Beautiful” was published. His annual Christmas poems went to friends around the U.S.

His honors included the Northwest Association Honor Award, Montana AAHPER Honor Award, Benjamin Surwill Award for Lifetime Achievement, Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award, Outstanding Educator of America and induction into the EMC Hall of Fame in 1988. The gym at EMC was named the Harold S. Alterowitz Gymnasium.

In 1986 he married Gloria Robinson Schmitt, then owner of Goff Creek Lodge on the North Fork. She was to bring much to his life and he called her “friend and beloved wife.” He moved to Cody that year and remained until his death.

He relished the years of teaching and many of his students loved and admired him. Reading, travel and fishing were his leisure pursuits, as were sports and exercise.

Survivors include his wife Gloria, son Michael (Del), daughter Laurie (Don) Nielsen, daughter and son of 28 years Linda (Kelly) Michaelis, grandchildren Justin (Tamara) Alterowitz, Gretchen Alterowitz and her partner Mikale Kwiatkowski, Brian (Kristina) Alterowitz and Patrick (Katie) Michaelis, and great-grandchildren LeMae, Brianna, Maggie and Michael.