Lou Gnerre helped connect a former student and current student on the Day of Giving

The Legacy Before Us: Day of Giving Revives the Story of an Icon

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Every day, Oluchi ‘23 walks to and from her dorm, passing the baseball diamond and sometimes taking notice of the small dugout that rests there. It isn’t one of the grand brick structures that stands guard on Academic Row, but its meaning for many is just as grand. A small sign hangs from this modest structure; it reads Gnerre Field. Recently, this name brought together two New Hampton School students—previously separated by decades—on New Hampton School’s Day of Giving.

Here is their story, in the words of Oluchi ’23 and Steven Corbally ’78.

“There are no such things as coincidences,” Steven said. “I truly believe it is the power of the universe remaining anonymous. Last Tuesday, I was making plans to drive to New Hampton School to visit former Headmaster, Lou Gnerre. Lou is someone who was like a father and much more to me during my four years at New Hampton, and beyond.”

Corbally made a donation on the Day of Giving under one condition.
Steven Corbally ’78 (center) with classmates during his Junior year.

Oluchi was one of this year’s Day of Giving volunteers, and Steven answered one of her calls. As they chatted, Corbally mentioned that he was planning a visit to see his former headmaster, Lou Gnerre, the coming weekend.

“Do you know Lou Gnerre?” Steven asked. Having only been at New Hampton for a year and a half, Oluchi had never met nor heard of the man.

“I was a little surprised. I then told her that if it were not for Lou Gnerre, I would not be here today, and…I went on to tell her that I would be delighted to make a donation, but under one condition. She had to learn and tell me something about Lou. Oluchi told me she would do her homework that night and see what she could learn about him.”

Lou Gnerre smiles for a photo as headmaster of the school in 1978.

After spending time researching the New Hampton School legend, Oluchi said, “I learned that he was the headmaster at New Hampton School from 1969 to 1988. He was a math teacher, college counselor, and a beloved baseball coach–so loved that the school named the baseball field after him. He lives in a house on the hill just off-campus. I always wondered who lives there.” Oluchi added, “It was a really fun challenge, and Steven was such a great guy. I can’t wait to talk to him again next year.”

From Steven: “I made my donation because New Hampton is a very powerful and magical place, as is every one of the faculty, staff, and students that have graced its campus for almost 200 years. And I made my donation because I received a call from a student at New Hampton School who demonstrated in a very brief time what kind of incredibly gifted students the faculty and staff help to realize their own limitless potentials in life. For that, I am forever indebted to The New Hampton School.”

After accepting Steven’s gift for New Hampton, Oluchi proudly walked back to her dorm with more than the proverbial check in hand. The rewards for her determined and graceful fundraising efforts were a challenge completed and a connection gained. The great man behind the small plaque on the dugout united these two unlikely acquaintances and reminds us all of what a true legacy is.

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  1. Image for Frosty
    Frosty

    Lou is New Hampton and one of New Hampton's truest icons. I know of no student in my 4 years 70-74 that does not enjoy catching up with Genere.

  2. Image for Kevin Kavanagh - ‘63
    Kevin Kavanagh - ‘63

    Great reality check! I can remember back in the day and seeing the older Alumni coming back and most times had no realization that they experienced NHS and came back with such fond memories. It took me 25 years later back then to identify how it must have felt to them. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pass on how much the faculty meant to us as individuals to the current students realizing it takes time for life events to be known as such usually until years later. Lou was one of those life events along with so many others like Skip Howard who we just lost. My conclusion is that for a majority of students, many years later Oluci ‘23 and her classmates will reflect back on those same memories.

  3. Image for Frosty
    Frosty

    Lou is New Hampton and one of New Hampton's truest icons. I know of no student in my 4 years 70-74 that does not enjoy catching up with Gnerre.

  4. Image for Nate Weiner
    Nate Weiner

    Most people forget just how great Lou, and Bud Moore for that matter, were and are. Lou was Dean of men when I attended. NHS wasn't co-ed. My memories of Lou Gnerre are what makes my NHS experience what it is. Nate Weiner '69

  5. Image for FRED SLAMIN
    FRED SLAMIN

    Lou was a great guy during my 2 years at NHS (1957 - 1959). Baseball coach and math teacher. Had a neat young family on campus. Always a friend of the students. Glad to hear he is still at NHS. Also, sorry to hear Skip Howard passed. He too was a great guy, coach, teacher and friend of the students during those 2 years.

  6. Image for John Hotte
    John Hotte

    Coach Gnerre was Dean of students while I attended NHS in the class of ‘68. His influence in my formative years there, in math class and on the baseball field, was most beneficial to the development of that “challenged youngster”. He contributed a lot to the fabric of my character as all my teachers/coaches did! However, ”Big Lou’s” capacity to provide fatherly guidance came from the time I spent on work squad; I needed and appreciate the discipline he offered me. I am most grateful for the time I spent with Coach 🙌

  7. Image for Richard Dupee
    Richard Dupee

    Lou changed my life. His unwavering support for me, both personally and academically, allowed me the confidence to get to where I am today.

  8. Image for Duffy Keith
    Duffy Keith

    Boy do I remember Mr. G, as we called him....We all loved him....He was tough and fun to be with at the same time....He could see through all the b.s. in an instant and always had a wise answer for situations that would come up..! Another great man was Ed MaDan....How many of you oldsters remember him...? Duffy Keith '66

  9. Image for FRED SLAMIN
    FRED SLAMIN

    LOU WAS A GREAT GUY DURING MY 2 YEARS AT NHS (1957 - 1959). HIS BASEBALL COACHING, MATH INSTRUCTION AND ALL AROUND CAREER AT NHS WERE MEMORABLE. MOST OF ALL HE WAS A FRIEND TO THE STUDENTS. I CALLED HIM IN 1986 TO REFER A SOUTH BEND HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY PLAYER WHO NEEDED THE SAME KIND OF CREDENTIALS THAT I NEEDED IN 1959. LOU CALLED THE PLAYER'S FATHER THE NEXT DAY TO SET UP A SCHOOL VISIT AND WITHIN 3 DAYS MY YOUNG FRIEND WAS ACCEPTED AT NHS.

  10. Image for Billy O’Connell
    Billy O’Connell

    Lou was an inspiration to us all in 1989! Team was loaded and he was responsible for bringing us all to New Hampton! Billy O’Connell ‘89

  11. Image for elizabeth hassinger
    elizabeth hassinger

    what a great story! Special appreciation to Steve Corbally, (or as Lou and all of our classmates knew him “Corb”) for challenging NHS student, Oluchi, and asking her to do some homework. There are so many people who have given years of their lives and much of their spare change, to make the school better and stronger, and especially to keep it going during tough times. Academics aside, the greatest thing that NHS does is create a safe place for so many young people who are going through the years of their life that can be confusing and painful, the years that often determine whether they will become productive members of society or just fall into a life of mediocrity. Lou is one of the people who inspired and guided so many us towards success! Thanks Steve, for challenging the student who was working on the fundraiser! Lou Gnerre should always be known and appreciated by NHS students. Liz Hassinger ‘78

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