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Magical Times for the Morans 

An occasional look at former Loomis Chaffee community members whose work helped shape the school. 

When Barry and Louise Moran look back on their lengthy careers at Loomis Chaffee and all the good times campus life provided them and their family, there is something wonderous, even magical, about those days. 

And not simply because Barry performed scores of magic shows on and off campus.  

“Loomis Chaffee was a wonderful place to raise a family,” Louise said by email recently. “We truly ‘had a village’ to raise our four children, and now grown, they all recall their time growing up at Loomis as just about perfect.” 

Barry taught mathematics in a 43-year career that began in 1972 and included being Mathematics Department head, associate director of admissions, and director of studies. He served on or led about 15 faculty committees and was named the 2015 Teacher of the Year. Louise stayed at home to raise the four children (Kevin ’90, Heather ’92, Michael ’95, and Kelly ’00) and tutor English as a second language until she accepted a half-time job working in the Development Office as editor of the Loomis Chaffee magazine in 1983. She later helped start and lead the Communications Office that, by 2012, had a staff of eight. Louise and Barry both retired in 2015. 

“The thing I think was particularly satisfying about teaching mathematics was that I continued to grow both as a mathematician and as a teacher,” Barry said. “There were some seismic shifts that provided opportunities for growth, like the introduction of the programmable calculator that opened the way to a plethora of problems and investigations previously unavailable to students during the average classroom, test, or homework situation. I believe I did a good job learning how to use this wonderful tool to help students become better learners.” 

As an aside, he said that artificial intelligence now “provides some challenges and some opportunities that pique my interest about how I might use this mighty tool in the classroom.” 

But more important than the tools were the students, and that is what Barry comes back to when he says his greatest growth was learning “to balance my approach so that I could move the learning process forward for the entire class while, at the same time, discerning and responding to the needs of the individual student.”   

Louise, too, grew professionally with the advent of new technologies, particularly desktop publishing. 

She was among the first employees on campus to have a personal computer on her desk as the Development Office “assumed greater control of its many printed pieces, progressing from reliance on designers and mechanical boards to creating magazines, solicitation pieces, and invitations independently in-house,” she said. 

Louise said she enjoyed the challenge of learning desktop software and designed many of the pieces herself. With more and more work moving in-house, her position became full-time. She eventually led a Communications Office of seven full-time employees as the Loomis Chaffee brand and messaging, in print and on the internet, spread far and wide. She said her final undertaking of “planning and directing Centennial events and festivities in 2014–15 was a particularly rewarding culmination to a fulfilling LC career.” 

Barry’s first administrative role was as head of the Mathematics Department. He said one of his greatest accomplishments in that role was recognizing “the standard course offerings made by the department no longer met the needs of a larger and more academically diverse student body. With the support of experienced department members, I helped initiate an expanded and better structured mathematics curriculum to better serve the needs of the students and teachers.” 

The 1986–87 school year, when he served as both associate director of admissions and Mathematics Department head, was particularly busy for Barry. 

“This was a wonderful learning experience for me,” he said. “It made real the task of building a school that reflected both exclusivity and inclusivity. It underscored in my mind how important it was to find capable candidates, and to serve well the students we enrolled, not only because that is the school’s mission, but practically, when we lost a student for any reason, the admission process had to find six potential candidates to ultimately replace the loss. I became more aware that the admission process also depended on the ability of the school to continually improve its resources. Perhaps most important, I learned that for a school to continue a healthy evolution, it needs to have a clear mission to shape its goals and objectives.” 

From 1987 until 1995, Barry was director of studies. He said the main focus of that position was to make sure “students had appropriate and necessary academic courses and teachers had rooms and resources to teach. I feel good about the fact that I always did my very best to serve the needs of both constituent groups. The task was one of bulk, but the nitty gritty required knowing individuals. I worked very hard to balance the multiple and sometimes conflicting needs of both the ‘school’ and the individual. The real task of the job began after the scheduling was done, namely, to do what I could to support teachers and students in teaching and learning.” 

As Barry said, there was an element of nitty gritty to it; he couldn’t just wave a magic wand and make it all happen.  

Barry said he did most of his professional magic performances in the 1970s and 1980s and right after retiring in 2015. Then he corrected himself. 

“Actually, I should say ‘we’ because my wife, Louise, and I created and performed an Elizabethan act with costumes from the Hartford Stage Company and later a Victorian act with vintage costumes,” he recalled. “We performed shows at the Greater Hartford Civics and Arts Festival, historical societies, school shows, local TV shows, and many shows for the TAPCO (Traveling Artists and Performers Company) Agency. It was both fun and a bit strenuous. Given that Loomis can be a 24/7 job at times, most of our performing was on days off or during vacations. I remember many occasions where we were up before dawn to rehearse the show.” 

With a growing family at home, Louise retired from performing, and Barry did solo acts mainly at schools and summer camps. Louise helped create the advertising and promotional brochures for Barry’s act and props that required her artistic touch. 

Barry Moran performing as a magician

Barry recalled performing many magic shows on campus — “at dormitory events, student- and faculty-sponsored fund raisers, impromptu card tricks, Seminar Days workshops on mathematical magic tricks, all-night prom parties, and even a show in Founders Lounge during Hurricane Gloria." 

“From the late ’80s until I retired in 2015, our lives were busy with children, teaching, and administrative work. While I performed the occasional professional show, magic became primarily a hobby. A few years after we retired in 2015, I started performing again. I focused my efforts on professional organizations, fundraisers, and private party-events. It was a low-key approach depending mainly on word-of-mouth advertising, so it was relaxing and fun. Unfortunately, COVID put an end to these shows. It gave me a good insight into how much the entertainment business and the service industry were negatively affected by this disease.” 

Today he is retired from professional performing but will perform for friends and acquaintances, including many former Loomis colleagues. “Recently,” he said, “I performed shows at River Town Village Housing Association for Chuck Vernon, Bartlett Hill Housing Association for Pam Byrne, and most recently at the Lathrop Retirement Community where Bert and Janey Thurber, Mark and Myck Williams, and John and Lou Ratté were prominent audience members.”  

Barry recalled performing many magic shows on campus — “at dormitory events, student- and faculty-sponsored fund raisers, impromptu card tricks, Seminar Days workshops on mathematical magic tricks, all-night prom parties, and even a show in Founders Lounge during Hurricane Gloria. I like to think that these performances helped students see another facet of one of their faculty members.” 

And brought joy. 

“Fundamentally, magic depends on fooling the senses and the mind of the observer,” he said. “However, being fooled is not always a pleasant experience. What brings me joy when I perform magic is the ability to give the audience an experience of seeing one of the physical laws of the universe being broken, the experience of seeing something they know cannot happen. It is an experience they can have in no other way, not on a screen or in a virtual-reality setting, but rather in real-time right before their eyes. My hope is that it is something that adds, if only fleetingly, wonder to their lives in a positive way, rather than something that irks them because they were fooled.” 

Just as Barry and Louise contributed to campus life, so too did the community enhance their family life.  LC was their children’s playground. 

“They watched sports practices and competitions (and even helped as ball boy or ball girl, etc.), frolicked in the pool, attended musical concerts, theater performances, art openings, dorm parties, and enjoyed eating in the cafeteria with their friends on an almost daily basis,” Louise said. 

And then there were the holidays. 

“Halloween with the amazing Boo Fest that the cafeteria staff … loved to host. The kids would parade through the dining hall in costume and then run wildly from house to house and through the decorated dorms gathering more candy than they could ever eat,” Louise said. 

She also remembered family-style dinners — turkeys carved right at the table — preceding Thanksgiving dismissal. Cookie swaps. Holiday celebrations. Cookouts as the weather warmed. 

“Of course, Parents Weekends (fall and the spring), Commencement, and Homecoming Weekend were always viewed by our fac brats as huge parties that included them, too,” Louise said. “The whole family became involved in both preparation and participation.” 

Magical times indeed. 



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