In Memory of Mr. Decatur

It has been harder than usual to walk the hallways of SLS these last few weeks — and not just because I miss those nonchalant summer days in the rear-view mirror. There is a personality missing from the culture of our school, a voice that no longer rings out in the lunchroom, a head no longer extended into the English wing, engaging each student who passes by.

On August 24, the St. Luke’s community lost Mr. Decatur, a veteran teacher treasured for his impact on the minds of his students, as well as his dynamic personality and position firmly in the center of the St. Luke’s family. A freshman Honors English teacher, he was certainly one of the most influential teachers in the academic journeys of countless students, and in many ways the quintessential St. Luke’s teacher.Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 4.58.00 PM

He wished to ignite within his students the same passion for literature that defined his professional and academic life, while  simultaneously occupying the positions of teacher, mentor, and friend. There was perhaps no greater example of his character than his office door, which may have never been closed in his 22-year teaching career. On a personal note, my experience with Mr. Decatur was absolutely instrumental in my discovery of literature and my love of the English language.

His position as a role model cannot be overstated within our school, yet he is remembered perhaps most for his character outside the classroom. His idiosyncrasies will certainly live on in SLS folklore, among them his trademark Marblehead, Mass. accent, his propensity for nicknames, and his knowledge of every college mascot.

All who knew Mr. Decatur has a story about him; in speaking with Mr.Flachsbart, he recalled shared car rides home after work. “When his son Ben was a senior, Mr. Decatur would leave him the car and ask me for ride home as if it were an imposition.  Nothing could be further from the truth — I cherished those rides, those talks, those laughs.  I’ll miss them and always treasure them,” he said.

In his letter to the St. Luke’s community, head of school Mark Davis ultimately describes Mr. Decatur as “a thoroughly decent man.” The only better way I see to describe him is through the literature to which he was so deeply dedicated. Our first assignment freshman year was to read some short stories by Flannery O’Connor, including the one from which my nickname, “bailey boy,” was derived: “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” I can safely say, we found a good man in Mr, Decatur, and his presence will be missed dearly.
A memorial will be held at 9:30am in the Fireplace Commons on October 17, the morning of Homecoming 2015.


Bailey Vehslage, Editor in Chief

Posted by on September 17, 2015. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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