Trustee Emeritus David Hoadley ’51, one of the school’s longest serving trustees, one of the first inductees to the Athletic Hall of Fame, and a generous and long-standing supporter of the school, passed away January 14 at his home in Brookside, New Jersey. He was 88 years old.
A loyal Trustee and dedicated alumnus, David was instrumental in the construction of the Edward G. Buxton Alumni Center, and served for 28 years as a Trustee of the school, President of the Alumni Association, and Chairman of the Annual Fund. He is the namesake of the Hoadley Society for the Annual Fund, The Hoadley Boys Soccer Award, the Hoadley Podium in the new Tisch Family Auditorium, the David N. Hoadley ’51 Alumnus of the Year Award, and the title currently held by Gunn faculty member Jeff Trundy, the David N. Hoadley ’51 Baseball Coach.
One of five children, Hoadley grew up in Washington, Connecticut, and as a young boy found his way to the baseball and football fields at what was then The Gunnery. In an interview at his home in January 2020, he recalled practicing with The Gunnery baseball team from the age of 9. He would catch fly balls in the outfield, drawing the encouragement of then Coach Edward Buxton, who later became his coach, teacher and mentor, when Hoadley was a Gunnery student.
Known to his classmates as “Dave” or “Nels,” short for his middle name, Nelson, he was described in his yearbook as “one of the illustrious Day Boys,” a “go-getter” and all-around athlete who played football, basketball and baseball, and served as captain of the baseball team. A leading sports writer and Associate Editor for The Gunnery News, Hoadley was elected to the Athletic Council in his senior year, was a tenor in the Glee Club and Choir. “Whether on the playing field or in the classroom, Dave applied himself seriously, and for this won the respect of all,” the editors of The Red and Gray concluded.
A lifelong athlete, he was one of the first eight inductees to the Athletic Hall of Fame and returned to the school consistently through the years. A black-and-white photograph displayed in the Buxton Alumni Center shows him, dressed in suit and tie, throwing out the first ball on the reconstructed Samuel J. Underhill Memorial Field in 1990.
“I have a lot of good memories,” Hoadley said in 2020, sharing details from baseball games he played (he drove in the winning run in a game against Taft that went 15 innings) and lifelong friends he met along the way, including Ogden D. Miller, Jr. ’50 P’84, who joined Hoadley’s middle school class at Washington Consolidated School. The two remained friends long past their years at Gunn, calling each other for decades on their birthdays, which were five days apart — Miller’s is March 10, and Hoadley’s, March 15.
Hoadley graduated from Yale, where he majored in American Studies and played baseball, and served in the Army ROTC. Returning to Washington, he married the girl next door, Margaret “Penny” Whittall in May 1956. He served for two years as a Second Lieutenant and platoon leader with the 65th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion’s Battery B in Okinawa, Japan, where, according to local newspaper reports, he also played for the football and basketball teams, and for the Ryukyu Islands’ All-Star softball team in the Army Forces Far East and Eighth Army Softball Tournament in Seoul in 1957.
Following his military service, Hoadley worked briefly as a sales rep before joining Smooth-On, Inc., a manufacturing company founded by Penny’s grandfather. He became Vice President of the company, which today is a leading manufacturer of silicone rubbers, polyurethane rubbers and plastics, retiring in 2011. He was the proud father of three daughters, Susan DeGeorge, Gretchen Burke and Cathleen Hoadley, and grandfather of 10.
He took up running in 1960 and ran his first marathon in Boston in 1969, after training for just four months. Although he did not finish that race, Hoadley was resilient. He continued training and competing, setting a goal to run 50 marathons by the age of 49, which he did in 1982, and then ran four more. “What have I learned from all these miles and miles? I know what it means to be truly physically fit and the great mental outlook you can have. I’ve run across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the Thames, and around the Imperial Palace and never met a runner I didn’t like,” he wrote in September 1982. “Goals should be set and strived for even if all are not reached, and lastly, winning and losing are not as important as playing.”
A persistent fundraiser who once traded Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian David McCullogh his copy of The New York Times in exchange for a $1,000 donation to Yale, he considered his greatest accomplishment to be his philanthropic efforts on behalf of institutions including his local library and church, Yale, and The Frederick Gunn School.
“The Gunnery gave me four years learning to handle success in the classroom and on the athletic field and to believe in myself,” he said, adding that it was “always a pleasure to return” to his hometown of Washington and be part of the positive experience of his school.
“He just loved being here,” Head of School Peter Becker recalled. “He lived a beautiful life and leaves a tremendous legacy.”
According to his obituary, a memorial service will be held in the spring. In lieu of flowers, Hoadley’s family asked those who remember him to go out and run or walk in his honor. Remembrances can be shared by clicking on the comment button below or emailing email@example.com for inclusion in the spring Bulletin.