Amherst notes the passing of Gerald M. Mager, the former college registrar, on Jan. 16, 2010, at the age of 66. Mager worked at Amherst for more than 35 years until his retirement in 2008. A full obituary from the Daily Hampshire Gazette is available here.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Contributions may be made to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society (P.O. Box 6307, Springfield, MA 01101) or to Heifer International (1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR 72202). Mager's obituary and register can be seen at www.douglassfuneral.com.
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Gerry the Gatekeeper
I worked with Gerry for years, and knew, from my first experiences with him, that there were RULES, and that the Faculty had voted those rules. Any wheedling from those of us who forgot what we voted for was dismissed the great Referee, Gerry. "Ron, you voted for this; all I'm doing is fulfilling your expressed wishes." He was right. And when he got really serious, I would just ask him what he'd recently seen on Broadway, and the tension went away.
I'll remember Gerry above all for introducing me to the music of Steven Sondheim. For years Gerry pushed to have him on the honorees list at graduation. Now I realize, I don't know if he ever succeeded in convincing the appropriate committee.
Somewhere he is humming that music.
Gerry - Ceremony and Tradition
To me, Gerry was a scholar and a gentleman. Gerry was the "go to" person on Amherst College history and ceremonial procedures - he always had the answers and he very subtly made the suggestions. I'll never forget his lessons on regalia hooding and his Commencement stage presence.
He had a wealth of information and a great respect for tradition and I will miss him.
Remembering Mr. Mager
Mr. Mager was a very firm decision-maker. I remember asking him if I could be placed with advanced standing as a sophomore because I had joined Amherst after completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma. This was beginning of freshman year. He was very resolute in saying no. I guess he was right, too.
Memories of Mr. Mager
I knew Gerry as a student and a fellow employee. I can't even remember how I first met him--I think there was some issue with my registration my first year--and he sat me down in his office and we had a very civilized chat. After the issue was resolved, I asked about all the Sondheim posters, and he brightened at finding another afficianado--he was almost gleeful.
In his position, he preserved a lot of Amherst College's unique character, as someplace where you are not just one of a sea of students, where people are not numbers and every class or grade issue is different. I always enjoyed working with him, and I was lucky enough to see him a few times after his retirement and to meet his wife. The community will miss him.
A Great Loss
The first time I had occasion to be in his office, I noticed upon his wall a poster from the production of Assassins that Nicholas Dahlman and I had been in. That made my day. He was a firm and deeply smart man, and the Amherst community is lesser without him.
Gerry Mager was an intensely moral person, a precious and noble spirit. He cared about standards, and he was diligent, even ferocious, in his determination to uphold them. He had a wry, even wicked sense of humor. I loved speaking with him about his travels (San Juan Islands), musicals, dogs (his dog Snickers), dogs (our dog Papushkin), dogs (those he judged), dogs in general – and about people and events at Amherst. He was exceptionally perceptive. He could not abide cruelty, or abuses of power. Although private by nature, it was always clear how devoted he was to his wife Sarah. He was the soul of Amherst’s Phi Beta Kappa. He was a loyal friend. I’m so grateful to have known him.
This is a very, very late
This is a very, very late posting. I didn't know Gerry Mager very well. However, I remember well the calming demeanor and kindness that he showed toward this young scholar from rural Indiana.