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.”
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.”
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.