“Because I love The Hill School. That’s why,” said George D. Senter, mathematics instructor emeritus and dormitory hall master, when he was asked back in 1999 about why he planned to leave a large portion of his estate to The Hill School.
When Mr. Senter passed away in July 2011 at the age of 93, he was remembered for his legacy of excellent teaching, high standards in the classroom and dormitory, and wholehearted commitment to the well-being and success of all of his students. His overall pride in The Hill was quickly called to mind by those who knew and loved him— including countless Hill alumni and colleagues.
And now, in addition to the unparalleled life experiences that Mr. Senter provided to the more than 3,000 students whom he cared for, Mr. Senter has provided The Hill School with a transformational opportunity: a $3 million gift, one of the largest gifts the School has ever received in its 161-year history.
Mr. Senter’s gift will endow The George D. Senter Chair of Mathematics. The gift also will endow The George D. Senter Scholarship Fund, benefitting Hill students from Maine with financial need. And, finally, the gift will support The Hill’s unrestricted endowment.
The importance of estate planned giving in securing The Hill School’s future is clearly expressed in Mr. Senter’s gift. Most planned gifts support Endowment and endowed funds. The Endowment and endowed funds typically support financial aid for students, faculty salaries, and faculty professional development – boons to retention and recruitment. Unrestricted endowment gifts support general Hill operations. These three key cost centers are integral to Hill’s sustenance and progress. A planned gift donor is a visionary who believes in the future of the School – clearly Mr. Senter fits this characterization. With his gift, Mr. Senter’s legacy is only enhanced.
|Senter House Dedication 2005|
“After meeting George at the funeral of former headmaster Ned Hall in 1993, our first summer at The Hill, Kay and I visited him often in Brunswick, Maine, and loved to hear his stories about The Hill of the past,” said David Dougherty, former headmaster of The Hill School, who retired June 30, 2012. “He, however, enjoyed just as much, even more, talking about The Hill of today and tomorrow. He was committed to the School, and wanted with his bequest to express his gratitude to it and his great confidence in its future. We now are grateful to him and are very proud that he was our friend.”
Mr. Senter was known for running a tight but loving ship in Hillside, Upper School, Wendell, and, finally, Foster, where he lived from 1968 until his retirement to his hometown of Brunswick, Maine in 1983. As a dorm master, he had high expectations for his students in terms of their personal conduct and behavior. However, Mr. Senter also possessed an infectious smile, quick wit, and good humor, all respected and admired by those fortunate to work, live, and learn with him.
The powerful impact Mr. Senter had on his Hill family was perhaps most tangibly captured during Reunion Weekend 2005 at the dedication of a dormitory house in his honor. A large group of alumni, faculty, former colleagues, and friends gathered with him in the Harvey Garden of the Dell Village for a touching ceremony, complete with ceremonious sounds of the bagpipe and champagne toast, all to celebrate the naming of the Senter House.
It was then that two of George's former “charges” and later treasured friends, Mac Borg ’56 and Neils Agather ’75, fondly recalled the time they spent in and out of the classroom with the Hill "father" they called “Captain Queeg” for his insistence on proper conduct and fairness. They noted George's “strong sense of right and wrong” as well as his “pride in the personal and professional successes of all Hill graduates.”
“I experienced Mr. Senter’s commitment and devotion to Hill and its students as a table master in the dining room and hallmaster during my fourth form in Wendell,” notes Board Chairman Thomas McN. Millhiser ’67 P’96 ’00. “In a quiet yet persuasive manner, Mr. Senter always encouraged me to do my best. Receiving a bequest like Mr. Senter's is always very special to a school, but, when it comes from a former teacher, it is extra special and meaningful.”
The Life of George Dyer Senter
George Dyer Senter was the youngest son and the seventh of eight children of Emma Thompson and Wilbur Fiske Senter of Brunswick, Maine. He attended public schools in Brunswick, and then transferred to Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., where he was first introduced to boarding school life and the opportunities it offers. While at Blair, Mr. Senter was very active in journalism as editor-in-chief of the school yearbook and school weekly, Blair Breeze. He was president of the Press Club and Webstonian Society, a debate club, and was a writer for the Stylus, Blair's literary magazine, where his column "The World as We See It" was very well received. He also played on the tennis team.
After graduating from Blair in 1938, Mr. Senter enrolled at Brown University as a member of the class of 1942; he attended there for three years until World War II interrupted his studies. In August 1941, Mr. Senter was inducted into the U.S. Army, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Coast Artillery Corps, and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands as an anti-aircraft gun unit commander. He subsequently became a general's Aide-de-Camp, and then a mathematics instructor for the Army. Mr. Senter was discharged as a First Lieutenant in February 1946, remaining a member of the Army reserve until 1953.
Mr. Senter returned to Brown University in the fall of 1946, and graduated from Brown with a B.A. in economics in 1947. While at Brown, Mr. Senter was on the staff of the Brown Daily Herald and became a member of the fraternity Zeta Psi.
After college, Mr. Senter began working in the supermarket field, but soon turned to education as a career. He joined the faculty at the New Hampton School in New Hampshire for one year, teaching mathematics and serving as a dormitory supervisor. He then joined the faculty at Peekskill Military Academy in Peekskill, New York, in 1948 and remained there for four years, teaching mathematics, science, military science, and later publications. He was faculty adviser for the 1952 school year book. In the summers during this period, Mr. Senter taught at a tutoring camp in Dexter, Maine.
|George Senter in Maine with the Doughertys in 2009|
In the fall of 1952, Mr. Senter arrived at The Hill School, where he began his celebrated teaching career-- instructing algebra, geometry, and mathematics and serving as a dormitory head. When he retired he was presented with a Captain's chair with the title "The Captain" embossed on the back. Mr. Senter sponsored an "Ice Cream Club" in the dorm on Sunday evenings, which is well remembered by former students. For 30 years, he served as the financial adviser to the school newspaper, The Hill News.
With his retirement in 1983, Mr. Senter moved back to Brunswick, Maine to live in a condominium there. For several years he was the president of that condominium association and became known as "The Mayor." He became involved with activities at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and served on the steering committee of the Association of Bowdoin Friends for a number of years, and was chair of that committee for at least one year. He spent many happy and peaceful summers on Bailey Island on the coast of Harpswell, Maine, in an oceanfront cottage which the Senter family had enjoyed for many years.