|Please note: A memorial service for Headmaster emeritus Chuck Hamblet was held on Saturday, Jan. 16, in the St. George's Chapel. A video of the service can be accessed on our youcastr page.|
Headmaster emeritus Charles A. Hamblet, the gentlemanly leader with a broad smile who led St. George’s through an unprecedented era of growth and prosperity from 1989-2004, died Jan. 9 at his home in St. Marys, Georgia. Chuck had battled a brain tumor courageously for nearly two years. He was 68. With him was his family, including his wife, Carol, who served the school during their tenure as our coordinator of student services and who also was by Chuck’s side—collegially and devotedly—for all the major events in the life of the school.
The 10th headmaster of the school, and the second-longest serving in our history, Chuck presided over a period in which St. George’s established itself firmly as a national leader among coeducational boarding schools, one in which boys and girls learned, lived, and competed together in state-of-the-art facilities. He was an unfailing advocate for teachers, determined to support them in their efforts with our students in many ways, not the least of which was through competitive compensation rivaling the best of our peer schools.
The Centennial Celebration in 1996 and the $36.6 million Centennial Campaign were hallmarks of Chuck’s tenure. While students and teachers were always his priorities, his legacy is also marked by the dramatic expansion of campus facilities. Construction began in 1992 with Buell and Wheeler dormitories and continued nearly nonstop until 2004 with the dedication of the Charles A. and Carol J. Hamblet Campus Center, appropriately named in the Hamblets’ honor after their retirement. In addition, during the Hamblet era the school added the Hoopes Squash Center, the new Van Beuren Gymnasium, the Hersey Track, the Ford Fitness Center, the new Geronimo, the Drury/Grosvenor Center for the Arts, the Cabot/Harman Ice Center, the Taverner Archives, East and Zane dormitories, and the Hoyt Pool.
Beyond physical facilities, under Chuck’s leadership a host of academic and other school programs also were expanded: in diversity, administrative and academic technology, Asian culture and Chinese language, and financial aid. Chuck and Carol believed in a holistic approach to student wellness and academic success. Together, they established a team of school health professionals and administrators, The Health Group, which continues to meet each week to discuss student issues, and to support the health and emotional well being of the students.
Beyond St. George’s, Chuck served on numerous boards and education committees. Until recently he was a trustee at Bridgton Academy, near the Hamblets’ summer home in Casco, Maine. He was also an influential and important board member and leader with the International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame and A Better Chance. Most recently, Chuck was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
Chuck was born April 21, 1941, and grew up in Lawrence, Mass. He graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, close to where his grandparents lived. He earned a master's degree in education from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., and taught in a public school nearby, where he met Carol, who also was a teacher. Chuck earned another master’s degree in mathematics at Brown University and entered prep school teaching at Governor Dummer Academy (now the Governor’s Academy) in Byfield, Massachusetts.
Chuck came to St. George’s in 1989 from Phillips Exeter Academy where, following his tenure at Governor Dummer, he had established himself for 19 years as a talented teacher, coach and leader. Director of the Summer School, chairman of the Math Department, dormitory parent, and coach of the varsity boys’ basketball team, Chuck became known at Exeter as a well-rounded educator who always kept students at the heart of his priorities. A program he developed to bring Native American students to independent schools was nationally recognized.
Chuck was a friendly presence to students at St. George’s, where he was a devoted fan of all the sports teams, traveling from sideline to sideline cheering on the athletes. His open door office policy frequently found him at his desk helping students with math problems or chatting with them about their day-to-day lives.
Chuck and Carol moved to Florida after their retirement from St. George’s, but after two years, Chuck was called out of retirement and was asked to serve for a year as interim headmaster at Westchester Country Day School, a private K-12 day school, in High Point, N.C. It would turn into a more long-term relationship: he became a beloved figure on campus, was asked to stay on as headmaster, and only stepped aside, due to his illness, last spring.
In addition to Carol, Chuck is survived by his son Rick, his daughter-in-law Lesley, and their children, Nathan and Nicole, as well as by his son Todd, his daughter-in-law Lauren, and their son Alexander.
A memorial service will be held next Saturday, Jan. 16, at 11:30 a.m., in the St. George’s Chapel. All are welcome and a reception will follow in the Hamblet Campus Center. In lieu of flowers, the Hamblet family asks that you consider making a gift to a school or organization that enriches the lives of young people and which reflects your relationship to Chuck. Carol may be reached at 2611 Isles of St. Mary’s Way, St. Marys, GA 31558-4269.
If you have a special memory of Chuck, we’d love it if you could contribute to our special memorial section.
Thank you for writing this email about Chuck. He and I worked closely together when he first came into SG. He was a great person and it was an honor to be his friend. I, and my family, will miss his presence in our lives. He has undoubtedly gone on to a better existence. Please be advised that Hakan and I will be attending the service.
Haluk "Luke" Durudogan
14 years ago we had three children at St George's- Stewart, Liz annd Tyler Steffey. Liz got into a bit of trouble and got her first bust as part of the trouble she and a few other girls had created. At about that same time, there was a bonfire on a Friday night before the Middlesex games. At the bonfire, Chuck invited Liz to come forward during a cheer. He said, "This is Liz ( I ruined my family's reputation) Steffey". When I heard the story from Stewart, Beth and I thought, what an amazing way to use a touch of humor while making a very important point. Chuck had a great abilty to make a serious point but to do it gently. We will miss him dearly.
Beth and Nick Steffey
My wife Mary and I are greatly saddened by the passing of Chuck who was such a kind and generous host and friend to two 'limeys' that only occasionally crossed their doormat on visits to 'the Hilltop'.
Having been appointed at about the same time to my St George's I found the archive story of our two schools' links dating back to 1919. This prompted my first letter to Charles and then a visit in the early 1990's when he showed me great kindness and I spent a fascinating two days on campus. Returning for your Centenary weekend I was able first hand to renew acquaintances with Charles and the lovely Carol and be a witness to the magnificent of their achievements then. Little did I realise there was still much more for them to a achieve until their retirement eight years later.
Charles and Carol visited St George's England on one of their fund raising trips and addressed most of my pupils if a special Chapel service one summer. In 1999 when I was Chairman he addressed the British Boarding Schools Annual conference in Buxton Derbyshire, enlightening those who ran the great private and state boarding schools in this country about issues which American Boarding schools faced as we stood on the brink of the new millennium, and playing (with Carol and my wife) a mean game of golf, something regrettably we never managed to take up his offer to do in Florida after their retirement.
Mary and I also met him in London on a couple of occasions for dinner when he was passing through on alumni work, once when your former president was being inaugurated and we sat in their hotel room watching the closing moments of the ceremony. Chuck was immensely proud of his country and the ceremony that accompanied state occasions. He felt it imparted something of the solemnity and history of the moment and wanted all young people to experience it. It formed the topic of our dinner conversation that evening and he was deeply affected by what he saw as part of history, a story that belonged to the people, and especially the young people of his America.
During my all too brief moments with him I came to respect a man of integrity, intelligence and compassion. His concern for the underprivileged and the struggling and what education, education at his St. George's could do was overpowering, as was his love of good company, good entertainment food and wine, and good cheer.
Throughout these times he always cherished Carol who he saw as a valuable equal in the team that he brought to St George's and who has been a wonderful life long companion, especially during these last few darker days and weeks. Their Christmas cards and messages spoke of such pride in 'the boys' and the next generation of Hamblets. He was so proud of them all.
My contact with Charles was limited but nevertheless memorable. Please convey to your community and his family my feelings of sorrow at Chuck's passing, but my gratitude that as we pass through life we meet people who enrich our lives, for whom we thank God that we have had a chance to know and who have forever a place in our memories when we remember all this has been just and good.
Please send this to the memorial page at the Communications Office on our behalf.
Norman and Mary Hoare
Headmaster ( 1988- )
St George's School
Chuck was my math teacher at Exeter and somehow made attending classes on Saturday morning something to look forward to. We are all products of those we admire and look up to. I am blessed to not only have had “Mr Hamblet” but to become a close friend in the years to follow. The Exeter students are equally saddened and will forever remember your commitment to our growth as young men.
All of us cherish how warm and engaged Chuck was in the life of the school. We are so saddened by news of his passing, but we'll always treasure our years of friendship with him.
Susie & Bill Hatfield
Sally '05, Bill '99, Peter '03
So many positive things took place during his 15 years as Headmaster (he did not like being called Head of School - he thought of himself as first and foremost a teacher). His attention to detail stands out in my mind.
Former Chair of the Board of Trustees Tim Sturtevant ’52
My husband, Michael Meyers, and I shared the same roof with Carol and Chuck in adjoining condominiums at Hancock Beach in Maine for twenty years. They were as perfect a couple of neighbors as anyone would desire. Over the years, we came to appreciate Chuck's extraordinary commitment to young people as personified by his tenure at St. Georges. We also recognized that Carol was the unsung heroine whose support of Chuck's work and her own initiatives with students made the team effort so incredibly effective.
We will miss Chuck in our community at Hancock Beach and welcome Carol back with open arms of love and support. It is a real privilege to have known two people who gave so much and have touched so many lives for the better.
Judith Brown Meyers
I came to Exeter as a young mathematics teacher and coach in 1977 and was fortunate to have many excellent colleagues, mentors, and role models like Chuck Hamblet in our department. Young teachers like myself tried to follow in Chuck’s footsteps and emulate him. We were a very close department, and all through these many years all of us have taken a great deal of pride in Chuck’s successes at Exeter and all his subsequent success at St George’s and beyond. He was a “school man” who understood how to be a great administrator because he was first a great classroom teacher, dorm head, and coach. I will always consider myself privileged to have known such a good man, his devoted wife Carol, and to have coached and befriended his two sons Rick and Todd.
Saddened by his passing,
One winter Sunday evening a few years ago, I received a phone call from the Headmaster at my daughter's boarding school. Immediately, I began to calculate what could be wrong, since Mr. Hamblet had never before called me at home.
My daughter had been visiting a college over that weekend; we had not heard from her that day. Obviously, I thought, she had transgressed in some way and was being expelled. I would have to go to the local high school in the morning to get her admitted. Etc and etc.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hamblet kept talking about this and that. He hadn't gotten around to dropping the bad news. Impatient, I finally said, "Chuck, why are you calling me?" There was a short silence, before he said, "I and the school would like it very much if you would make the graduation address to seniors on Prize Day in May."
I thought of this conversation last Sunday night, when word arrived that Charles A. "Chuck" Hamblet, Headmaster Emeritus of St. George's School, had died. If that name doesn't ring your bell, don't worry, Chuck didn't go around ringing bells for himself. He was one of those people on whom our culture depends to hold us all together. You might not have known Chuck, but I'm certain that you've experienced people like him in your own lives. These are the ones with sound values, operating daily with intelligence, generosity, a sense of higher purpose, and courage.
Chuck and others shine the light on us, especially young people, rather than on themselves. They don't need their allotted fifteen minutes of celebrity in our celeb-obsesed world.
After writing six drafts of that speech, I finally arrived at a final version. I'm happy to say that it went well, didn't embarrass my daughter, and Chuck seemed very pleased.
When it was over, the faculty, trustees, seniors and I paraded out of the chapel under threatening clouds. Chuck and I stood on the steps where graduates would receive their diplomas and he asked me if I thought we should move the ceremony indoors. "Your call," he said. He wasn't shirking responsibility; he was simply comfortable putting himself on the line by trusting another's judgement. It was a small gesture, but said much about who he was and how he lived.
"Well," I answered, "You're retiring, and I'm not likely to be in this position again, so let's keep it outside. If it rains, they can't fire us."
Chuck Hamblet was a great educator, leader, role model. I will miss knowing that he is in this world, but his legacy continues through the minds, hearts and souls of thousands of people. Some losses really are bigger than others.
I almost forgot: it didn't rain that day.
Tom McDermott, P'02, '04
Westchester Country Day School was so fortunate that Chuck Hamblet, as he put it, “failed retirement”. Chuck and Carol’s tenure at Westchester was meant to be only one year; however as it happened (and how lucky we were), they led our school for three years. The amount of incredible spirit, compassion, and integrity they brought to our school is immeasurable. Not a day goes by that I don’t think to myself, “What would Chuck do?” He is greatly, greatly missed.
Assistant to the Head of School
Westchester Country Day School
My husband, Ed Russell, and I deeply regret we are unable to attend the Memorial Service for Chuck Hamblett on Saturday.
Memories flood my mind and heart as I remember our many conversations on the sidelines of games on each other's campuses in every season, from slanting rains on the football field in the fall at St. George's to the balmy spring days of the last girls' lacrosse game of the spring season at Middlesex. Chuck and Carol, Ed and I enjoyed many wonderful evenings with our fellow heads and spouses at dinners in Boston where we shared the joys and challenges of serving our respective schools. Always Chuck was a warm and wise presence in our group, a true gentleman and consummate educator. He will be sorely missed, but his legacy lives on in the schools he served so well.
former Head of Middlesex School