In Memory of Mr. Gentile

The+staff+of+the+Sayreville+History+Department+on+Halloween%2C+dressed+as+Mr.+Gentile%27s+%27secret+service%27+-+a+fond+memory+for+them+all.+%5BPictured+from+left+to+right%3A+Christopher+Howard%2C+Gregory+Curie%2C+Thomas+Gentile%2C+Heimir+Capati%5D
The staff of the Sayreville History Department on Halloween, dressed as Mr. Gentile's 'secret service' - a fond memory for them all. [Pictured from left to right: Christopher Howard, Gregory Curie, Thomas Gentile, Heimir Capati]

The staff of the Sayreville History Department on Halloween, dressed as Mr. Gentile's 'secret service' - a fond memory for them all. [Pictured from left to right: Christopher Howard, Gregory Curie, Thomas Gentile, Heimir Capati]

The staff of the Sayreville History Department on Halloween, dressed as Mr. Gentile's 'secret service' - a fond memory for them all. [Pictured from left to right: Christopher Howard, Gregory Curie, Thomas Gentile, Heimir Capati]

Dylan Moran, Editor-in-Chief

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Leaving his mark on the school, the community, and on the lives of all those who had the pleasure to know him, Echo Lites dedicates this article to the memory of Mr. Thomas Gentile, a longtime Sayreville War Memorial High School employee as Supervisor of the humanities, foreign language, and the arts who tragically passed away this past year on December 11th, 2017 at 64 years old.

In an effort to pay tribute to his contributions to the community, teachers stepped forward to recount some of their experiences working under Gentile – expressing both how the school moves forward through the painful loss and how we as a school can carry on the legacy of education he left behind.

Mr. Christopher Howard of the AP U.S. History I course, who personally knew Mr. Gentile for 11 of his 12 years working at the high school describes him as “an old-school educator, a motivator, and an inspirer” who was “always doing something for someone” across a career of over 40 years spent educating the masses.

Recounting his life, Howard describes Gentile’s prior experience as a History major, a student of Latin and German, a teacher at St. Peter’s prior to transferring to Sayreville War Memorial High School, and even someone who took up roles across the educational spectrum as a principal and athletic director, among previous vocations. Carrying this experience with him to Sayreville, Howard reveals that Gentile had apparently earned something of a nickname as the “Old Sage on a Stage” – the name taken from his passion for a more ‘classical education’ while keeping an open mind to new methods of self-betterment.  He was someone who learned just as much as he judged and taught in every class observance.

The loss strikes a very personal chord for the staff here at Sayreville War Memorial High School after Gentile’s 12 years of tireless service.  He is fondly regarded as a “mentor and a friend who let us [the teachers of Sayreville] know we were supported in the classroom”, and a “ defender of the arts program and the budget who gave teachers and students alike the freedom to be who they are”. Further singing his praises, Howard voices profound admiration for the dignity with which he addressed his students and peers, describing him as “Someone who knew – whether it was math or art as their passion – every student mattered. He treated very single student with respect, and he inspired teachers to fight for more advantages and opportunities for their students. Each and every one of us – teacher or student – who had the opportunity to work with him will, without a doubt, miss him dearly.”

Mr. Ed Zurawski, another staff member who worked closely with the late Mr. Gentile, acknowledges his passing in regards to how we as a student body and a school can move forward, voicing the reality that “loss is a part of life.” Continuing, he advises to “ remember what he represented…and carry the torch. There’s no replacing someone like that, but there’s no forgetting all he left us. He believed ‘Knowledge is Power’, and that power is one he passed on to us.”  In an eloquent remark, Zurawski describes the role Gentile played and the legacy he left behind as “a steady hand, consistency, and 40 years of experience.”

In a final remark, Mr. Howard assures our readers that Mr. Gentile “lived his life giving and, though we lost him, he left us doing what he loved.”

The Sayreville staff was his family who recoil from the deep personal loss of a friend and colleague, and we at the Echo Lites extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends recovering from the loss of a truly incredible man who leaves us with the praise and regards of all who knew him – and hope to honor the memory of Mr. Thomas Gentile in any way we can, may he rest in peace.

[June 1st 1953 – December 11th, 2017]

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