Richard M. Garten ’39, the twenty-fourth headmaster of Trinity School, died on 5 April 2019, in Jacksonville, Florida.
He was born on 7 October 1921. A native New Yorker, he graduated from Trinity School in 1939. He received his BA in 1943 and an MA in history in 1947 from Columbia University. He was a teacher of history at Riverdale Country School, and was the headmaster of three independent schools: Park School in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1960-1964; Trinity School from 1964-1975; and Gulf Stream School in Gulf Stream, Florida, from 1975-1987. He received his EdD from Florida Atlantic University in 1987.
His tenure at Trinity marked a notable time in the School’s history: Trinity returned to coeducation after 129 years, accepting girls in 1971; Kindergarten was added; and the School participated in the West Side Urban Renewal Project by building the Hawley Wing and Trinity House. In overseeing a significant transformation and expansion of the student body, faculty, academics, curriculum, and facilities, he fostered advancement within all aspects of the School, as well as the community. An organization he founded in the early 1960s, Broad Jump, which provided academic enrichment to students in public schools, was a forerunner and partner of Prep for Prep. During his leadership he was successful in bridging the traditions of the School with the social and cultural changes of the era. With these many initiatives, Garten was the creator of the modern Trinity School.
“Dick Garten impacted my life in so many ways and I will forever be grateful to him,” said Andrea Colvin Roberts ’73, the first woman to graduate from Trinity after its return to coeducation and now a trustee of the School. “He was extraordinary to me from the time that he admitted me to Trinity and told me I did not have to take geometry again (which I would have failed for sure) and mentored me in history. He was always a great friend to me over all these years. I will really miss him.”
“I got to know Dick over the past twenty years through regular correspondence around his birthday and at the holidays each year, and the occasional visit” says Associate Head of School for Advancement Myles Amend. “He read school publications cover-to-cover, and maintained a lively interest in all things Trinity. One of the most moving things I ever saw was the extended standing ovation he received in the Trinity School Chapel when he was introduced at the 40 Years of Women at Trinity event in 2013.”
Garten is predeceased by his wife, Jean. He is survived by his three children, Christopher P. Garten ’74, Victoria Garten Wilcox ’75, and Richard Gray Garten ’80.
His son, Christopher, writes that his father had “a long, full, and meaningful life, with work and family he loved.”