For decades, my father would end every table grace with the words, “Help us to live while we are yet alive.” Dad died Thursday, January 2, after 93 years of practicing what he preached.
My brothers and I have been flooded with condolences from literally hundreds of people impacted by our father’s life and living.
Dad’s greatest loves were his family, teaching (specifically at Thacher School, in Ojai, Calif., where he lived 1949-2014), horses, and travel. He had a remarkable ability to combine the four.
We three children owned, trained, and competed on our own horses starting at unusually young ages. We were raised on a boarding school campus where every boy had a horse, and we considered Dad’s many students extensions of our own family.
He and Mom traveled to a total of 69 countries, frequently lodging with former students, always making new friends along the way. He and Mom were once described as living in a metaphorical tent that always had room for more people.
As a child, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. No one ever scoffed at that idea. Dad attended as many of my games as possible.
We were simply taught that whatever our goals, working hard and consistently to achieve them was critical. When I became a teacher, Dad was delighted.
It would be impossible to guess how many times I called him for advice over the course of four decades, but it’s accurate to say that there was no one from whom I learned more.
There was never a challenge — or success — I had that he hadn’t experienced in similar form in his own career. When Wayne and I moved to Southern California so I could head a school, it became Dad’s and my happy pattern to chat every afternoon on my drive home.
Wonderful as the four-minute commute in Incline Village became, we both missed the phone time.
There are, of course, hundreds of stories I could share to summarize lessons from Dad. One that pops to mind involved the many trees that I loved climbing as a child.
Occasionally, I kept climbing when I should have stopped and found myself unable to get myself down.
Since the family rule on a thousand-acre campus was to explore with no fewer than two friends, there was always someone to fetch Dad, who never rescued me by climbing.
Instead, he talked me down, reminding me that if I had been able to reach up to a branch, I could slide down that same distance.
Teacher Dad never simply provided the solution, nor did he ever suggest I shouldn’t climb other trees. He taught us how to solve our own problems.
As a former student noted, “Jack Huyler corrected me when I was wrong and celebrated my successes. I always knew he cared.”
One of few disappointments in Dad’s life was that he was not able to visit Incline Village and Lake Tahoe School. I assured him we live while we are yet alive here.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.