Skip To Main Content

In Memory of Jack Reydel, Canterbury's Third Headmaster

Meredith Berry-Toon

Jack Reydel, Canterbury’s third Headmaster, died on December 20, 2018, at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife Jill, daughter Amy, and son JJ Reydel. He was most recently a longtime resident of Marion, Massachusetts and Vero Beach, Florida.

Jack spent much of his early and professional life in the Mid-Atlantic. A native of New Jersey, he was born in Westfield and received his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, NJ, in 1951. Jack spent five years at The Hill School, PA, before establishing himself at The Lawrenceville School, NJ, for 17 successful years in a variety of roles including that of Housemaster, Head Coach of Varsity Football, and Chairman of the History Department. When Walter Sheehan, Canterbury’s second Headmaster, announced his retirement, he wrote of Jack in a letter to the CT State Department of Education: “He is a very impressive individual, [and] I cannot think of a better man on the basis of his combination of scholarship, athletic ability, and administrative skill.” Jack signed his appointment letter in 1973, and, with Bradley, his wife, and two children, JJ and Amy, he joined the hilltop community for the 1973-74 academic year.

“While at Canterbury, he was absolutely dedicated to the fact that good athletics make a good school,” noted longtime faculty member JP Mandler on Jack’s committed years to the School. With insight and passion developed during his previous role as a varsity coach, Jack was of the mindset that pride in athletics brought pride in school and pride in oneself. Inspired through his role at the helm of the School, Jack also encouraged students to harbor a sense of pride in themselves—from their academic curiosity to their own moral character. He was instrumental in redefining the coat-and-tie dress code, emphasizing strong performance in team sports, and instating Saturday classes, now an established boarding school tradition.

Over the course of five years, Jack made great strides in Canterbury’s athletic excellence, physical plant, and facilities for day students and the newly accepted female students. With the helpful perspective of Charlie Huntington, revered former Head Coach of Boys’ Varsity Hockey and Director of Athletics, Jack initiated the construction of Canterbury’s first indoor ice rink, one which continues to be of great pride and use for the School and surrounding community. He spearheaded the School’s second major fundraising campaign and greatly enhanced the endowment while helping to bring the School to the largest enrollment to date. Importantly, Jack oversaw a concentrated increase in community service participation and work with organizations in the broader area and helped to develop community relationships, which continue to be part of the School’s core offerings today.

From the Mid-Atlantic to New England and back again, Jack happily stepped back into the classroom and joined the teaching faculty at Germantown Academy, PA, in 1978. “After five full years at Canterbury, Bradley and I have decided to leave New Milford,” he wrote in a letter to the Board. “The desire to return to the classroom has never been far removed from my mind.” He was a momentous and inspiring teacher and, as such, continued his professional trajectory back with students as faculty in the History Department.

In addition to his lifelong role as an educator, Jack was a true and distinguished academic. Following his dedicated service in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea during his youth, he was the Recipient of the Coe Fellowship in American History at Stanford University, CA, and an Asian Fellowship at the East West Institute at the University of Hawaii. He also continued his formal education past his years at Princeton to earn a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, MA.

A Mass in Jack’s honor was held at Canterbury School in The Chapel of Our Lady on Sunday, January 6, 2019. Condolences can be sent to his family through Canterbury School at 101 Aspetuck Ave, New Milford, CT, 06776, attn: Advancement Office.