Louis Gnerre, Jr. passed at the age of 86 on Monday, December 13, 2021. Our School community will deeply miss this lifelong friend and neighbor, who resided for many years on Dr. Childs Road across from Smith House until his passing.
Lou first joined New Hampton School at age 21 as a math teacher and coach in the fall of 1957 following his graduation from Boston University. He arrived with his wife Patricia and their first child on the way. They resided in Randall Hall, where he served as a dorm parent. His years here witnessed Lou in many roles, speaking to his genuine nature, leadership, and committed work as a relationship builder. As a teacher, coach, mentor, dorm parent, department chair, director of college counseling, director of studies, dean of students, headmaster, and alumni ambassador—Lou’s connection to New Hampton School has extended over six decades and touched generations of students, families, and friends. Patricia also supported the School, assisting the Dean of Students, while she and Lou raised their sons—Louis “Gino” Gnerre, III ’76 and the late Michael Gnerre. Lou and Patricia were beloved at New Hampton School, frequently receiving visits at their residence throughout the year and especially at reunions.
From Teacher and Coach to Headmaster
Lou’s legacy at New Hampton is a story that contains countless memories, laughs, and enduring friendships. His loyalty to the School over his extensive tenure serves as an inspiration and a reminder of the power of integrity, commitment, and selflessness. In short, he was a role model for thousands of people. His humor, perspective, candor, and compassion are frequently described as qualities cherished by those who knew him best.
While his early years saw him teaching algebra, trigonometry, geometry, statistics, and calculus, he also laid the groundwork for excellence in coaching baseball and football. As he often humorously shared while telling stories, during a personnel shortage, he was assigned a coaching position in basketball despite having no basketball experience. As the tale goes, Patricia purchased a copy of Red Auerbach’s “How to Coach Basketball” to get him started. Years later, under his direction as headmaster, Lou is credited with expanding the basketball program to greater heights in determination to create a national-caliber program. The team won their first New England Prep School Class “A” Championship in 1986. For this effort, the Louis Gnerre Basketball Award was later named in his honor. In 2006, Lou’s induction into the New Hampton School Athletic Hall of Fame in the Coach category for baseball was widely celebrated. His coaching record tallied 348 wins, 161 losses, and an impressive 17 Lakes Region Championships. Dozens of Lou’s players went on to collegiate careers and a few to the Major Leagues.
During his tenure as headmaster, Lou emphasized the development of programs to attract mission-congruent students to help them develop their talents. The growth of the female population on campus following the return to coeducation in 1970 witnessed many avenues of program building. These years noted increased growth in the arts, humanities, environmental science, and more. Lou Gnerre continued to stress the importance of a solid college preparatory curriculum.
“I have built my home here.”
Even as he stepped down from the headmaster position in 1988, he knew his journey here was not complete. Lou noted, “I have built my home here. All our friends are here.” Following 16 years as the head of school, Lou continued for an additional four years in teaching and as Director of College Counseling. In 1992, he departed campus and expanded his academic reach at Fryeburg Academy (1992-1999) and Plymouth State University (1999-2004), where he also pursued and achieved a Master of Education in Counseling (1995). Soon, he returned to New Hampton School as an Alumni Office Ambassador (2004-2011), serving as a knowledgeable resource, a frequent connector, and regular event attendee and support. When Lou made phone calls to alumni, they called back almost immediately. His passion for educating young adults and proactive concern for others earned him the utmost respect of all who were fortunate to know him.
In honor of his accomplishments at New Hampton and beyond, Lou Gnerre received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Reunion Weekend 2011. This testament upon his second retirement from the School witnessed support from several speakers at the event, in addition to hundreds of notes and video messages of support from alumni. The tangible adoration by Lou’s former students, athletes, and colleagues is easily observed and felt. While several issues of the yearbook were affectionately dedicated to him over the years, the 1975 Belfry featured a reprint of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Meaning of Success” on those pages. It reminds us of Lou’s constant values: to give the best he had, to look for the best in others, and to hold unwavering love for his family and friends.
“Lou was my neighbor here on campus for the last six years, and I took immense pleasure in visiting him in his living room to hear tales of his New Hampton journey, the traditions that mattered deeply to him, and the people he built relationships with,” Head of School Joe Williams shares. “His relationships developed through this community were what fueled him. I could see it in his eyes when he told stories of the past. We will miss this legendary New Hampton figure and appreciate all he and his family gave to this community.”
A Life Well-Celebrated
In recent years, while Lou’s health often kept him home, his door was always open for visits from the students and friends he has made over the years. He also made appearances at the Saturday evening programs during Reunion at the fervent request of many of his students from the 60s and 70s, who urged him to join them for dinner. The chant of his name by their myriad voices always brought a smile to his face. Many will also remember several years of reunions when the Gnerre Baseball Game was a must-do on the weekend’s schedule. After all, America’s favorite past-time was his favorite as well. Spending hours on the diamond—a feature on campus dedicated in his honor in 2000—was a highlight of his year with those that came out to play on those sunny summer days.
Lou is survived by his son Louis “Gino” Gnerre, III and his wife Marie of Bristol; granddaughter Brittani Gnerre of New Hampton; two sisters Joyce Meaney and Susan O’Laughlin, both of Waltham, MA; nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife Patricia and son Michael. A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring at New Hampton Community Church, with burial to follow in the New Hampton Village Cemetery. A reception will follow at the New Hampton School.
Please visit the official announcement from the family online and join us in keeping Lou’s family and friends in your thoughts. You may share memories on www.newhampton.org/lougnerre, as well as view photos and more in remembrance of Lou Gnerre. You may also leave online messages for the family on www.EmmonsFuneralHome.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Lou and Patricia Gnerre Scholarship Fund at New Hampton School. We extend our deepest condolences to the entire Gnerre family and those touched by Lou’s life.