With great sadness, we share the news that alumnus, benefactor, and Trustee Emeritus Jason Pilalas ’58 passed away on July 10, 2023.
Born January 10, 1941, in Norwalk, Connecticut, to Jean (nee Warner) and Miltiades Pilalas, Jason grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and attended Greenwich Country Day School and New Hampton School in New Hampton, NH. Jason attended New Hampton under the leadership of former headmaster Bud Moore ’38—but his journey would come to a quick end when he decided to enlist in the Navy. He always joked about his journey at the School, noting his record-holding number of demerits. But New Hampton was a place he considered a home, and he returned frequently in the years that followed. He credits many of his successes in life to his relationship with Moore, citing Moore’s compassion not only in bringing him to New Hampton but in the years of guidance that followed. Pilalas called him his “savior” and shared that Moore was instrumental in helping him achieve a college scholarship and subsequent commission in the Navy. Pilalas received an honorary New Hampton School diploma from his former headmaster many years later.
Following his first year in the US Navy, Jason was accepted at the University of Southern California through the ROTC program, where he also met Rena (nee Elder)—his wife of 55 years. After undergraduate college, Jason continued his Navy career, completing three tours of duty in Vietnam before entering the reserves and marrying Rena at the end of 1967. He was an honorable veteran, a graduate of Harvard Business School (1973), a proud father to Debbie and Troy, and a happy grandfather of two. Jason’s career took him to the Capital Group in Los Angeles, an investment management firm where Pilalas specialized in pharmaceutical and medical company investment during his 36-year career. He retired from the Capital Group in 2009.
Jason, Rena, and their family lived in many places throughout the years. From New York to Los Angeles, Boston to North Palm Beach, and many places in between, including their Lighthouse home in Noank, Connecticut, and all the global ports of call they visited on their boat. They spent years cruising the world on the boat bearing Rena’s name, enjoying time with children, grandchildren, and dear friends.
Jason often shared about his reconnection with New Hampton School during a meeting. “Little did I know when I passed Bob Kennedy a cup of coffee in a New Hampton coffee mug during a business meeting, that my life and his would be changed. [..] For me, this chance meeting brought me closer to the institution that put me on the right path during my adolescent years. Bob invited me to the board of trustees, and the rest is history.”
At New Hampton School, his legacy endures through his decades of service, wise council, humor, and generosity. He and Rena were never further than a phone call away and always opened their home to members of the New Hampton community. Jason became a member of the Board of Trustees in 1989, going on to succeed Bob Kennedy ’50 as the Chairman—a position he held until 2009—and remained a trustee emeritus from 2012 until his passing. Pilalas was inducted into the School’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 as the team manager of the 1957 men’s varsity soccer team, which accomplished a rare, celebrated undefeated season. In 2008, Jason returned to campus for his 50th Reunion. There, with many former classmates and friends present, the community he knew so well honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
For students and faculty today, perhaps his most known contribution is establishing the Pilalas Center for Math and Science, dedicated in 2009. At the time, he shared his wish that students “wear out” the new building and take advantage of the opportunities it will afford. “It’s a great feeling to help out the things you love.” However, it is also important to note his enduring support of several endowments and scholarships at the School. He and Rena valued access to education for students, professional development for teachers, and sustaining the facilities around campus. Jason was a true friend and leader within the community. Head of School Joe Williams shares, “Jason was a unique personality, whose dry sense of humor and directness may have put some people on their heels, when in fact he was one of the kindest, wisest, and most generous people I have had the pleasure of knowing. New Hampton is indebted to Jason and Rena for all they have done for the New Hampton community, and he will be sorely missed.”
Jason’s life is one to celebrate, and our community aches for the loss to his family, friends, and loved ones. His generosity, character, and lasting connections will ensure his legacy continues in our community and beyond. The family will announce details of services at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to swimwithmike.org or newhampton.org. You can read additional information from his official obituary online.