On the night of Tuesday, December 3, The New School lost a beloved member of the community — Will Gary, a dedicated and kind hearted security guard often seen at the 66 West 12th Street building entrance.
I finished up my bachelors and received my MA from The New School and Will Gary was a part of that. For me, two things stand out as I remember him. One was his smile. He always greeted everyone with that giant radiant smile. Somehow, it always made the idea of “school” much more palatable. Two, how disappointed I was when he was not there (how DARE he take a vacation).
During my time at The New School, my entry to 66 W. 12th and my relationship with Will evolved from the nod and smile that men use to acknowledge one another to bro-hugs at the beginning and end of semesters and after breaks. While we never had a conversation longer than one or two sentences, his warm vibe and genuine nature transcended words for me and, I suspect, everyone who walked through those doors.
Throughout my years there and my interactions with him, I’m embarrassed to acknowledge that I never knew his name. Once we moved into the bro-hug realm, somehow it now seemed odd to ask. So I didn’t. Besides, I rationalized, names would have just muddied our friendship.
When I first read this I thought “Man, I hope it’s not that guy.”
My heart sank when I realized it was.
As I completed my MA and left 66 West 12th for the last time, I didn’t do anything differently. It would have upset the nature of my relationship with Will so we hugged and nodded without saying anything. There was no sense saying good-bye because Will was always going to be there.
And now he won’t be.
I’m sad The New School lost one of its greatest assets.
I’m sad that new students will never know the comfort and warmth of Will’s nuclear smile.
I’m sad for his family and my heart and thoughts are with them.
I find some peace in knowing that our loss here in this world is another worlds gain.
Something tells me that when my time comes, there on the other side ready to greet me will be Will Gary and that huge smile. We’ll bro-hug, nod to one another and as I walk away, I’ll know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
I’ll be seeing you Will.