It’s been 25 years since I graduated from the Episcopal Cathedral School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This past week, I found out via social media — specifically Facebook — that my old headmaster, Father Gary DeHope had died. A flood of memories came to mind, taking me back to the early 80’s and I remembered with gratitude the role Father DeHope played in my life. While I couldn’t be at his funeral service, I and hundreds of his former students “congregated” on social media to honor him and share great memories of our beloved headmaster.
For those who never met Father DeHope, he was a truly a gentle giant who served as headmaster of the Episcopal Cathedral School for over 35 years. Father DeHope was ECS, and ECS was Father DeHope. He took a struggling parochial school added tough love, academic excellence, and Godly wisdom to transform it into one of the finest private schools in Puerto Rico. Father DeHope had a commanding presence, yet he was tender-hearted, extremely wise and had a wicked sense of humor! (I think it was a combination of being from Northeastern Pennsylvania and having lived on the Island for most of his life.)
Over the years, I made it a point to stop in and say hello to Father DeHope. He always rolled out the welcome mat whenever one of “his kids” came back home to ECS. I remember those visits; I was received with his trademark, big bear hug and he wanted to know what was happening in my life. Even though he didn’t have children of his own, we were all Father DeHope’s children. Actually, we were all the sheep entrusted to Father DeHope when Jesus said, “take care of my sheep… feed my sheep.” And that he did, he fed us with the power of knowledge, a quality education, and Godly love.
Rest in Peace, Maestro!