Garrey remembered for his work in classroom, coaching
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News May 31, 2012 3:00PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:57AM
Former Batavia High School teacher Thomas Garrey had a style of opening math class with an educator’s version of a monologue to engage his audience.
“He always started math class with a challenge problem from interesting articles and facts he found in newspapers,” Batavia High Principal Lisa Hichens said Thursday.
Garrey, who taught at Batavia High for 36 years, died Tuesday at his home in Geneva surrounded by family. He was 73.
Hichens said she shared a math classroom with Garrey for two years and had a chance to observe how he engaged his students.
“I thought opening with a math problem was a great way to start class – it was interesting to see his teaching style. He had a reputation of being a very good math teacher,” she said.
Besides his work in the classroom, Garrey coached football, baseball, softball and basketball at Batavia High.
Garrey began refereeing in high school basketball in 1961 and continued as a referee in basketball, baseball, softball and football. He was selected to referee the high school state championship game in girls’ basketball, high school football and girls’ high school softball and completed his 50th year as a referee in 2011.
The beloved math teacher and coach was inducted into the Illinois High School Coach’s Hall of Fame in football in 1997.
Recently retired Batavia High athletic director and head football coach Mike Gaspari remembers Garrey as a “tremendous” football coach and as one of the top referees in the state.
“Tom was tremendous with the kids and had great rapport with students and staff,” Gaspari said. “He was somewhat of the elder statesman amongst a bunch of young coaches on the football staff – we relied a great deal on his advice in how to approach things properly with kids and with football. He had respect of everyone in the school.”
Gaspari said what he found unique about Garrey and his coaching was that he was an official simultaneously.
“It is rare to be both a coach and official – he shared insight into what officials deal with. It was something I respected as both a coach and an athletic director. In many ways, it shaped how I treated people over the years,” Gaspari said.
Batavia High School history teacher Matt Holm said he saw Garrey from the eyes of a player, beginning in Little League baseball, then as a high school football player and later as a coach himself. He also had Garrey for math for a couple of years.
“He was the old school coach that you love,” Holm said. “He was rougher around the edges but what was ingrained in my mind is his laugh and smile,” Holm said.
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said Garrey was a math teacher and coach when he was in high school.
“Tom was a coach at Batavia High School in the 1960s during some of the real highlight years of Batavia athletics,” Schielke said.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Moss Family Funeral Home in Batavia. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday from the funeral home to Holy Cross Catholic Church for a 10:30 a.m. Mass. A private interment will be held in Oak Mound Cemetery in Somonauk.