Former Instructor in French, House Counselor And Coach of Varsity Baseball, Hale Sturges Passes Away at 75

Hale Sturges, former Instructor in French and baseball coach, passed away on October 14 at the age of 75, after a 15-month battle with appendiceal cancer. Hale Sturges joined the French Department in 1965 and taught until his retirement in 2004. During his 39 years at Andover, Sturges served as an Instructor and Chair in French and later Chair of the Language Division, Coach of Varsity Baseball and House Counselor for 22 years in Fuess House and French House. “After being a house counselor for 22 years, my dad became a surrogate father to so many boys living in the dorm… I received numerous letters and emails from former students in the past couple of weeks that really struck me his depth of influence,” said Anne Gatewood, daughter of Hale Sturges, in an interview with The Phillipian. “It was really obvious in one level that he made a difference to all these kids, but I really didn’t understand how deeply and I didn’t realize that because he never put me or my sister as anything but his first priority,” she continued. Gatewood said that family and friendship and having fun with people he loved meant the world to Sturges. “He was a really, really fun dad: he was always playing games, from scrabble to croquet to catching balls. In the classroom, he always managed to make class fun: he would jump up and down and act out things…he was some sort of a looney tune… there was always a big laugh in every class,” said Gatewood. In addition to being family-oriented, Gatewood said that her father was always a student, rather than only being a teacher. She said that his curiosity for the world inspired him to travel all over the world. “He would always try to go to new places and learn about different people and the way different people lived their lives and have an appreciation for that,” said Gatewood. “Hale Sturges was an outstanding teacher and colleague. He was always interested and caring in what other people were doing and their ideas. He also really thought about what he was doing and his philosophy in teaching,” said Natalie Schorr, former Instructor in French, in an interview with The Phillipian. During his time as the Chair of the Language Division, Sturges was a strong advocate of teaching all levels of classes entirely in the target language, creating a total immersion experience for the students, said Schorr. “Essentially the reason why he did that was because he felt that he didn’t want students to think that English was more important than other languages and wanted students to have empathy for other languages and cultures,” Schorr said. “For [Sturges], it wasn’t just about teaching the language itself. It was teaching the history, the literature, and the culture of another language,” she continued. In addition, Sturges developed the Chinese Department back when only a couple of classes were offered, by hiring more teachers and leading the first faculty trip to China. Schorr added that he even tried to learn the language himself. Outside of his teaching career, Sturges held the Beinecke Foundation Faculty Chair for 21 years and also served as President of the Cum Laude Society. He also served on the boards of the American Memorial Hospital in Reims, France. Sturges also published two French textbooks, titled “Une Fois Pour Toutes, Encore Une Fois,” and “Par Tout Le Monde Francophone,” and wrote a sociological study titled “The People of Pleure: Portrait of a French Village.” “At Andover, he cared about others and this continued during his retirement in his work with outreach programs,” said Schorr. After retiring from Andover, Sturges continued to share his love of the French language and literature through teaching at Beacon Hill Seminars, where he taught courses in French and English, in addition to serving as Vice President of the board. Furthermore, Sturges taught English as a second language to recent immigrants. Jacques Hugon, Instructor in Math, first met Sturges while staying in Andover as a Post-Graduate international exchange student. He lived with Sturges and his family in their faculty housing apartment in Fuess House for part of the year. “[Sturges] became a mentor and a friend to me ever since we met in 1978,” said Hugon in an email to The Phillipian. “He and his wife opened their home to me on countless occasions, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas or just offering friendship and support at every moment of my adult life.” Hugon said that, with his cheerful and infectious laugh, Sturges had a wonderful ability to connect with everyone around him, adults and students alike. “He was passionate about teaching and a passionate Francophile who took great pleasure in his craft, as well as the daily contact with students. He loved the classroom experience, and it showed in the enthusiasm he showed for teaching French every day. He is truly a wonderful human being, friend, and mentor. I will miss him dearly,” Hugon wrote. Sturges graduated from Milton Academy in 1956, and received his Bachelor’s from Harvard College in 1960. He began his teaching career at Middlesex School in 1960, teaching French and Latin and continued teaching French at Andover. Sturges is survived by his wife and two daughters. His memorial service will take place on November 15 at 2:00 p.m. at Cochran Chapel.