Longtime Hackley Headmaster Walter Johnson Dies at 64

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by Rick Pezzullo

Walter C. Johnson, the Headmaster at Hackley School in Tarrytown since 1995, died June 16 from cancer. He was 64.

The 11th Headmaster in the history of Hackley, Johnson led the independent school through unprecedented growth and development. He was credited with strengthening and expanding the school’s academic program and faculty, attracting a talented and diverse student body, substantially increasing financial aid and faculty compensation, and expanding and redesigning the campus.
Philip Havens, a former Headmaster and Hackley trustee and retired executive director of the Edward E. Ford Foundation, said Johnson personified the essential element of Hackley’s mission statement: unreserved effort.

“He gave us his talent, his boundless energy and his imagination,” Havens stated. “Somehow, like a sculptor, he saw what was possible. He saw how to create it. And he saw how to harness the energy and talent of the many who love Hackley to join together, chisels in hand, in this grand and beautiful project.”

A teacher at heart, Johnson, who planned to retire on June 30, began his education career teaching English at Trinity School in New York. He is survived by his wife, two children, Meg (Class of 2007) and Will (Class of 2012), a sister and stepmother. A Memorial Service was held June 26 at Akin Common at Hackley School.

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