On the evening of August 23, a gathering on the lawn of the Loomis Family Homestead honored the careers of Berrie Moos and Fred Seebeck, who between them represent 64 years of teaching, coaching, advising, and leadership at Loomis Chaffee.
Current and former faculty, staff, students, and family members of the honorees attended the celebration to pay tribute to Berrie and Fred, who retired in June 2020. The event had been postponed because of COVID-19. Four other honorees from 2020, Ruth Duell, Candice Chirgotis, Dennis Robbins, and Phyllis Grinspan, were unable to attend the recent gathering due to family obligations and travel issues relating to the pandemic.
With a reflection on the foundational role of building relationships with students and colleagues, Head of School Sheila Culbert began the evening’s festivities, stating that both Berrie and Fred “made an impact on thousands of students over the years that they have been at the school.” She thanked them for being “faculty members that were easy to look up to, easy to admire, and truly inspirational.”
English Department colleague Andrew Watson spoke in Berrie’s honor, reflecting on their friendship, her dedication to her students, her sly sense of humor, and her ability to form strong relationships with her students. Taking on a variety of roles over her tenure on the Island, Berrie was known by her students for her storytelling, her love of grammar, and her genuine interest in their lives, he added.
“Berrie is intensely curious, deeply knowledgeable, and super-humanly patient,” he reflected. The students in her classes were inspired to go beyond just learning about the literature and language that they were studying; they wanted to “know more and ask deeper questions” about the topic, he said.
In her remarks, Berrie regaled the gathering with humorous memories of students and colleagues over her 28 years of service to the school.
Fred worked and lived on the Island for 36 years, during which he taught English; coached swimming, water polo, and track; worked in admissions; served as a dean of students and a dorm head; and was involved in the growth of the school. He was especially known for his thoughtful mentoring of both students and colleagues.
Associate Director of Studies Bob DeConinck, who coached with Fred, and former Associate Head of School Aaron “Woody” Hess paid tribute to Fred. Bob reminded the gathering of the dedication, commitment, and understanding that Fred brought to his job, and Woody noted Fred’s “unusually genuine interest in other people and students” in the classroom, on the playing fields, and in the dorms.
In his remarks, Fred spoke of Loomis Chaffee’s strong community, the opportunities for personal and professional growth, and the sheer variety of the daily work as reasons for staying on the Island for 36 years. “The community of friends here has been diverse, interesting, and the friendships that have been made are lifelong.”