On the night of  Tuesday, December 3, The New School lost a beloved member of the community — Will Gary, a dedicated and kind hearted security guard often seen at the 66 West 12th Street building entrance.

According to a source from the security department, Will Gary suffered from a neck injury while lifting weights, which led to a heart attack a few days later. The source also mentioned that Gary suffered an allergic reaction to medication he received at the hospital. The official cause of death is not yet known.

A few reflections dedicated to Will Gary have come in to our Free Press email. Many students, faculty members and staff will undoubtedly remember Gary as a positive and uplifting man who could brighten everyone’s day. If you would like to say a few words and share your fondest memory of Gary, please leave a comment below.

WNSR: New School Radio featured Will Gary and his positive and energizing attitude part of their 25@25 series in 2011.



“Will Gary was that type of person who brightened your day when you saw him, even when you were tired, over-worked, or stressing about getting to class. When you walked in to 66 West 12th Will greeted you with a warm infectious smile. He was always kind and considerate. He was extremely funny and loved sharing stories about his son, in which he was very proud of. His passing is a terrible loss. He will be missed. I hope he knew how much he was appreciated and loved by the New School community.”

– Tiffany-Liana Williams, Office Manager at Parsons Office of Advising


“One day after he greeted me by name, as he always did, I made my way to the elevator and heard him stop another student to ask for her name as she tried to rush past him. She scoffed at being delayed and when she came onto the elevator she said ‘What is his problem?’ I answered that he genuinely wanted to know her name, that in the future he would say hello to her by name every time she sees him, and he is one of the nicest people she will ever meet. Everyone in the elevator vehemently confirmed.

I did not know him very well at all but the impression he made on me was great. He seemed to me a rare and extraordinary person with an abundance of kindness and joy that he relished sharing with anyone passing through the doorway that was his domain. He certainly took me out of whatever stress, hurry, or inane thought I was having with the enormity that was just his smile and greeting.

– Lauren Santorso, student


“In my last conversation with Will, before we all departed for Thanksgiving break, he was telling me about his grandmother, and her positive outlook on life. Now in her nineties, she’s entirely independent, goes grocery shopping by herself, and goes out with her friends to bingo. ‘You’ve got to live everyday like it’s your last,’ is something he often told me. We have to cherish all those little things.

In the fast paced environment that we live in, where we’re running from place to place, rarely making eye contact with the people we walk past everyday, I don’t think there was anyone who didn’t want to come to a pause and talk to Will before they started their day and when they were finally ending it. From his jokes to his determination to learn everyone’s name, he gave us all a little bit of love. Will was a cornerstone of The New School community – the smile that we all looked forward to seeing.

Will was, and is, a truly  beautiful soul, and although the 12th Street lobby won’t be quite the same without him, we should all remember that it only takes a quick smile or a few words to make someone’s day. And the best way to keep remembering him is by doing just that.”

-Danielle Balbi, Editor-In-Chief, The New School Free Press



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  8. Just happened to walk by because I wanted to say hello. What a shock to see your photo and that they were having a memorial in your memory.
    My sister and I knew Will for about ten years. We always commented on what a Beautiful smile he had and how genuinely happy he was to see us. He would always greet us with a smile and a hug. Even when I graduated he said,
    “Don’t forget to come back and say hello, I would really like to see you both again.” He was such a good person to us. It was a pleasure to meet him and to be his friend. RIP. God bless you. Our sincere condolences to his family. We will miss you.

  9. Gary! I can still remember your warmth smile. It made all the difference if you where there at the entrance door 🙂

    I was lucky know you. You will be missed.


  10. Gary,

    I will always think of you and imagine shaking your hand whenever I enter 66 W.12th. Your spirit will ALWAYS be there. Thank you for everything, my friend. I will miss you. I’m sorry you never got to see my film, but at least you know your name is in the end credits.

    Your kindness and magnificent warmth will be missed by many.


  11. I didn’t even know his name until I heard about his death, but I will not forget William Gary. I know people often speak well of those who have died but, in this case, kind words cannot capture the true beauty of the man. He had a remarkable impact on the community here — his joy for his work and his love of people has been paid forward hundreds of thousands of times over and clearly continues to touch us all. Mr. Gary made people feel welcome and safe, injecting a happiness into people’s lives if only for the briefest of moments. We did not really know each other but when I walked into that building I knew I would be warmly greeted, arm extended, his eyes locked on mine for just an instant. That was how we interacted and it was enough. We never spoke to each other for any length of time but that greeting made a difference to me time and again. On my hardest days, when I was tired from a long day and life wasn’t going particularly well, it lifted me in simple ways. I can’t explain it. Al I know is that I was not alone in this experience.

    Mr. Gary was the type of person who is too often overlooked because his life was not of Hollywood or politics or YouTube. His story is of something far more real and meaningful. At this time of year when we all need to stop and think about what doing good for each other really means, the story of Mr. Gary should resonate with us all. It is profound and true and worth being reminded of, to know that we have a responsibility to each other and to this world and that even in the seemingly tiny gestures we carry out each day, we can lift each other and change each other. We are heart broken now but the essence of Mr. Gary’s life is something we must hold onto. His is a simple, powerful story of how one man impacted the lives of so many by just noticing, reaching out and sharing the best piece of himself every chance he could.

  12. Will always transmitted so much joy and positive energy every day without exception, touching the lives of so many of us during our time at the NS. He made sure that you felt welcome while diligently doing his work. That way the 66 W 12th st became your home from the very first moment you stepped inside. I admired him for that and am very saddened for his passing. May he rest in peace and may his son, family and closest friends find comfort in these difficult moments. Our prayers are with them

  13. I have too many good memories of Will to share here. I remember when i would come from a long day at work he would be there to push me through evenings of class. I am saddened I won’t see his lovely smile when I visit.

  14. Will made your day. No matter how you felt, no matter who you were, Will treated everyone with respect and added an incredible amount of joy to your life. Will, a kind, beautiful man will be so missed by the hundreds of people touched every day by your beautiful smile and the world’s greatest handshake. A giant of a human being has left us. You are deeply missed.

  15. Will Gary was a wonderful person who always greeted you with a smile. In his eyes, you could see how much he loved life and people. He always had something nice and encouraging to say. Will, you will be missed dearly. Thank you for your kindness. My condolences to Will’s family and friends. He was a bright and shining star at The New School who brought joy and comfort to many. Rest in Peace, Will.

  16. Greetings, Hundreds of people Will touched would love to pay their respects in person. Can anybody post information? May God Bless Will. May his soul find eternal peace and rest. Thank you

  17. Will truly made a difference in my experience at The New School. I loved the time and care he took to his job as security guard. He became so much more: friend, mentor, and someone who truly wanted to form relationships with students. I wish I knew him better, I only really knew that whenever I came into the building that I would receive a warm greeting no matter the weather, hour, circumstance or events going on in the world. My thoughts and prayers are with Will’s family at this time and I hope that we all can live with the legacy of love and care that he left us. God bless!

  18. Most always I teach and work in the 13th st. I was fortunate to meet Will nearly 6 years ago while taking an evening CE Italian class in the 12th st. building. Every since, like so many others, he said hello, remembered my name and there began a spontaneous on campus friendship at the moment I saw him. Always a hug, radiant smile, bright eyes and laughter. I am so grateful that I saw him just 2 weeks ago while walking on 6th ave. (I had not taken a class in the 12th st building for nearly 2 years). A big hug, how are you? Walking in opposite directions, we took the time to chat for a short while. In retrospect, I feel it was truly a destined moment. I told him how nice it was to see him again and what a beautiful person he is ~ always smiling, always positive, always grateful for what matters most in life. Thank you for making the New School a better place. Bless you Will…my prayers to you, your son and your family. RIP

  19. I’m crushed to hear this news. This coming Thursday is my last class in the GPIA program, and for the last two and a half years WIll has greeted me in the lobby of our W 12th Street building. I always got the sense that he recognized me even though he must’ve seen thousands of people flow through those doors each day. My heart and prayers go out to Will’s family – this is a true loss to the school, community, and New York City. Will had an exceptional presence – this was a gift.

  20. Being an online student out of state, I didn’t know Will on a personal level as other students and faculty. However the few times I visited the campus, Will had an undeniable warmth and energy that embodied the beauty and charm of The New School. One encounter was like a lifetime of friendship. His enormous generosity should inspire others to share the same kind of love in their own lives.

  21. So many of these messages reflect exactly what I feel. Will was ‘stunningly beautiful, inside and out’ and his smile ‘brightened the day’. I have been a faculty member at the New School for several decades, and Will made a very strong impression on me. It is true that no matter how I felt, his warm welcome and radiant smile lifted my mood and made me feel good. Every time I entered and left the building, Gary gave me a warm handshake and we often chatted after my classes. Will always had a kind word and a great sense of humor. When I received the email with the sad news, I kept thinking that it just could not be Will. I went to school the same night, saw the flowers and the picture of Will who was no longer standing by the security desk. It felt so unreal and so sad.
    We are blessed to have had the privilege to know Will. He was an extraordinary human being. My heart goes to his family.

  22. Totally. Impossible. Then again such things happen! This was a guy with eternal smile which make you forget what worries you grapple with as soon as you see him. Great loss! Great loss. RIP.

  23. Will was one of those rare individuals who was stunningly beautiful, inside and out– so generous and real that you just had to slow down to experience what it is like to be truly “seen” and embraced. Even if I was running late, I would stop to talk with him, knowing that my day wouldn’t be as rich without our exchange. And yet I hadn’t stopped to realize the vast number of lives he had touched just as deeply as my own, and for so many years. . . May we all make an effort to continue transferring Will’s infectious, welcoming spirit to the people we work and live with every day, friends and strangers alike. What inspiring, soulful and good humored wisdom he embodied–thank you and RIP, dear Will.

  24. Will’s death is a stunning loss. My heartfelt condolences to his family. While he and I never actually introduced ourselves to one another there was a bond and sense of support I felt whenever he gave me that big smile and made me feel that he was glad to see me. It always shifted something in the course of my day onto a better path. As an African American man at The New School there were many moments when encountering Will and the support and respect he telegraphed to me dissolved a sense of isolation that too often characterizes my experience. I will miss Will’s quiet positive impact on my life.

  25. I am still in shock and wake up in the morning wondering if this is just a dream. It seems unimaginable that I will not be greeted by that warm smile and sincere embrace. Will invited me into this school without hesitation, he would even call out my name when i passed by the school in the summer while not attending classes. He is truly one of the kindest, most compassionate, and charismatic people I have ever met. I am mourning his passing deeply but also celebrating his remarkable life with joy and gratitude.

  26. Having just returned from a week out of town, I was deeply saddened to learn of Will Grey’s passing. He was always a welcoming face when I came in to 12th Street, and I join all the many colleagues and staff who express their sense of loss. My deepest condolences to his bereaved family. What a terrible loss for you.

  27. My condolences to his family – my heart goes out to them, and to our New School community, for the loss of such a warm, generous-spirited person.

  28. Whenever I walked into 66 W 12th St. my eyes would gravitate to the security desk, looking for Will. His smile and welcome made my day so many times. He made a point of remembering people’s names and their teaching schedules and making greetings personal. His presence will live on in that space.

  29. How dreadful for all of us and of course most of all for his family. When Will was the person who greeted you as you entered the 12th St building it was was a pleasure, even a treat. He lit up the lobby.There is no one else who made you feel so welcome.

  30. I echo the warm sentiments stated about Will Gary’s smile
    and greeting. Will reached out and offered the New School community and each of us, a heart rendered welcome.

  31. Will touched our hearts and lifted our spirits, just with his smile. In the hustle and bustle of our work or study routine, Will reminded us of the simple things that really matter, those little things that define the sense of community, while keeping a professional demeanor and clearly enjoying his job. He was pure Light, which he shared with all in effortless generosity. I am grateful to have had him in my path for over a decade. He is now back to Light and we are just fortunate to have been touched and hopefully inspired by it. The best tribute to will is to live by his legacy.

  32. Every time I saw him, Will said something to make me feel special, beautiful, cared for, loved. It was he who was all those things. What a wonderful person, sorely missed.

  33. Will was the first person that made me feel a part of the university. I will miss his warm, welcoming smile that meant so much more than words.

  34. What stunning and sorry news to hear of Will’s very untimely death. In the many years I’ve come through that entrance at 66, I can’t recall a single time when he wasn’t smiling, wasn’t reaching out, wasn’t failing to make any one of us feel better about the day. I extend my condolences to his family. While we were a part of his day family, the loss for his immediate family and friends has to be profound and oh so hard.

  35. Will’s warm smile and friendly greeting brightened my day every time I entered 66 W 12th. He seemed to know everyone who walked in the door and have a kind word for each of us. I called him “the Mayor.” He will be truly missed.

  36. I met Will my first night back in school… I couldn’t believe how awesome his spirit was… Such a sad loss for everyone.

  37. Will was special in many ways but one thing I won’t forget about him is the time he took to listen to me talk about my new passion I discovered I had during my New School time. He actually knew my degree and took interest in my deaf culture knowledge. He would ask me what I wanted to do with my future. I would explain either deaf theatre or work with deaf adolescents as a counselor and every time we talked about it he would answer with some “oh word sister. You are going to make a difference someday” it always touched me but is hitting harder now how much it meant to have someone understand my passion. Rest in peace Will, you will never be forgotten… I promise

  38. I knew Will for many years and I always made a point to stop and speak with him. His wide smile, warmth and hearty laugh always brightened my day. He was always so kind and gracious when we would speak about his dear son and his love of sport. Although I am a runner and he a weightlifter, Will and I could always share a few connective words about the passion necessary for sport, for family and for life. My deepest condolences go to his son and his family. I am truly saddened by this loss.

  39. I knew Will for nearly a many years and I always made a point to stop and speak with him. His wide smile, warmth and hearty laugh always brightened my day. He was always so kind and gracious when we would speak about his dear son and his love of sport. Although I am a runner and he a weightlifter, Will and I could always share a few connective words about the passion necessary for sport, for family and for life. My deepest condolences go to his son and his family. I am truly saddened by this loss.

  40. Will was a joyful, gentle and vibrant presence in the 12th Street lobby. The bouyancy of his smiles and the sweetness of his hugs were his signature “greeting cards” that I cherished – and will hold to my heart in memory. It was an honor to know him.

  41. My impression of Will is of a man who loved life. He exuded great joy, to such an extent I remarked on it to my family saying, “There’s this security guard at work who is really something, I mean the guy is just beaming, all the time.”

    Like a star.

  42. My sincerest condolences to Will’s family. We will all miss him, and the New School community clearly has lost a dear colleague and truly kind man in our community. Even when I was not entering the 12th Street building for a class or meeting, I’d always wave to him and could count on his return wave and beautiful smile. His spirit of personal generosity and graciousness will remain with me. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

  43. I am truly saddened to hear of Will’s death. He always took the time to say hello and give a friendly smile. He was a kind and warm-hearted person who was a joy to be around. My deepest condolences to his family.

  44. Every single time I walked through the doors at The New School, he greeted me with a firm handshake and a warm smile!! His positive energy will surely be missed!!

  45. He was the kindest and friendliest face I saw on my first day at the school, and remained so throughout my time at the New School. Truly a sad loss to our school’s community.

  46. After 12 years of friendship you just don’t want to say goodbye…
    So I’ll see you later, whether in my thoughts or in another life. Until then.

  47. Will was infectious – he spread love & warmth throughout the New School. I am saddened by the loss of such a wonderful person. He made everyone’s day brighter by his genuine smile and greeting he gave each person that passed him. He will be missed. RIP Will and thanks for the memories.
    My prayers goes out to his family and loved ones

  48. If only the world had more Will Garys. Tragic is the only word to describe his leaving us so early. With deepest sympathy to his family. He will be dearly missed.

  49. This sudden death cannot but remind us of the precious soul, welcoming heart and magic smile that Will had for all of us at The New School, unconditionally. Leaving this world, you have once again taught something simple and incredible: to be positive, smile and be love all the time in every moment. Thanks for sharing your life with us, rest in peace. May your loved ones go through this moment with soothing memories that can light their heart.

  50. My prayers are with Will’s family, especially his son, because I remember how inseparable they were. I could tell how seriously Will took his role as a father, and that he was raising his son to be a man with good principles and values. As I stopped to chat with him (after an embrace of course) I often smiled at how well he balanced discipline and compassion and thought ‘the New School is really unconventional! this kid is on a scooter whizzing by me in the hallway!’ I pray that our warm thoughts and memories will comfort his son (I have no doubt Will is watching over him in the spiritual realm.) Will you were an angel walking amongst us, and a guardian at the entrance, a real life guardian angel!

  51. Will was a wonderful man, he had such natural warmth and charisma. I always felt safe and welcome when I entered his presence, and I will never visit 66 without thinking fondly of him. My heart goes out to his family and close friends, Will was a very special and rare person.

  52. Will brought so much light into the world. Every day for two whole years he greeted me with warmth and kindness. I will never forget his smile because he never failed to show it. What a special soul. I am so grateful that our paths crossed. To his family and friends I send thoughts of comfort and peace.

  53. I thought I was special to Will. I thought we had our own little flirtation going on and that those hugs and smiles were just for me. But then I realized – everyone was special to Will. He was the host of the fabulous parade of people who came through the doors at 66. When he was out on vacation, you took it personal because that lobby dimmed perceptibly. When Will was there it was a hangout, a party, a place to take a break from the stresses of school and life. This was a man who elevated what some perceive as a regular “job” into a calling and a ministry. Not to mention this brother was easy on the eyes. I just met his equally nephew and his equally fine brother, with the apt name of Romeo, and I cannot imagine the loss this must be to his family. My FB timeline is full of Mandela tributes but in my view, a man of equal heroism, who made the lives he touched better by his presence has left the physical realm and will be sorely missed. Everyday heroes exist and Will was one. I hope his son will use these testimonials to keep the spirit of his father alive and be comforted by the love and appreciation so many had for him.

  54. Will was truly one of a kind. He made me feel so welcomed while I attended TNS. He always greeted me and everyone who entered the school with a beautiful smile. One of the highlights of my day was coming to the building early or hanging out after class to hang and chat with him. Will and I grew to be good friends. Just two weeks ago I spoke to him and told him I would be coming to see him soon; I was just busy these days. It breaks my heart to know that he is gone and I can only see him via pictures now. Will, you may have left this earth but your spirit is still with us. Love you buddy!

  55. It’s been two years since I graduated, but I never forgot Will and his brilliant smile. He was an awesome presence that was calming even as I would run into the building, frazzled because I was late. He would give me this knowing look and we’d exchange a humorous banter. He had a way of making everyone feel like a personal friend. He was a beautiful person. My prayers go out to his loved ones.

  56. When people remmebered Will to be ‘the smiley guy at 12th st who would remember everyone’s name and smile at them’, I immediately knew who it was. This is how much his bright and friendly energy make him so one of a kind.

    I am ashamed to say that I am probably one of those people who did not treat him with equal friendliness and care as he did to everyone. It makes me think why I did not open up to this man who was so genuine and eager to be kind. I wonder what part of life or the society made me this way, to the point that I missed the opportunity of having known such a great man.

    My thoughts to to his family and young child.

  57. Charming, handsome Will was always the person I’d look for when I came in the door on my way to teach a class. He was usually surrounded by a small group, laughing and joking, but would always look up to say hello and make sure that the people entering the building really belonged there. He did his job with competence and joy.

    I hope that Will’s family sees all of these tributes from so many people whose lives were made happier by our encounters with him. He was a treasure whose memory we’ll cherish and whose example we should all emulate.

  58. Will was a friend to everyone, including me. I can’t believe he’s gone. How could this happen? Such a rare person and to part from us in such a rare way. This was a gem of a man and he made me feel like a million bucks every time I saw him. So very sad to lose him.

  59. Will radiated positive energy, light and love. He was so charming and funny. He made me smile every time I saw him – every single time. I have never forgotten him, even years after graduating from GPIA. It’s amazing what an impact genuine kindness can have on so many people. His absence will truly be felt and his presence never forgotten.

  60. I was really shocked and saddened to learn about Will’s passing. He was the friendliest and nicest security guard I’ve ever met. He didn’t have to smile and talk to many of us as we showed our IDs at 66 W. 12th Street, but always found the time to do that. I was among the many grad students he managed to cheer up every time I entered the building, even on the busiest and most stressful of days.
    For a class assignment on international development, one of our professors once asked him to pose as a tough and somewhat abrasive security official who would not allow us to enter a particular region. While his physical build, uniform and training were the perfect match for this role and his acting was pretty good, it could not be further from his personality. Will was always warm, kind, and helpful – and I wouldn’t be surprised if every single comment about him referred to the smile he greeted us with daily.
    We often talk about professors making a difference in students’ lives, but I have no doubt that Will left just as strong of an impact on many students’ lives. My deepest condolences go to his family. They – and The New School community – lost a really great guy.
    Vesna, GPIA, ‘11

  61. What will stick with me the most is upon my return to The New School I was greeted by Will with a big bear hug; he remembered me after all those years away. I’ve never not seen him wearing a big beautiful smile on his face. I’m deeply saddened and he will be dearly missed.

  62. Even though I am a graduate from class of GPIA 2006 now that lives overseas for the past 7 years on and off, when I would make infrequent visits throughout this time to meet with a GPIA Professional that remains a mentor, he was there and always had a gentle smile and remembered me. Will made me feel as soon as I entered through those revolving doors on West 12th Street, that I returned to one of my “homes”. May he rest in eternal peace and my sincere condolences to his family and everyone impacted by this sudden death. RIP. Filomena in Angola, Africa.

  63. Will was absolutely a sweetheart of a man – I truly can’t imagine anyone not affected by the sincerity of his smile and the warmth he exuded to every student who nodded as they passed his post. My sincerest condolences to his family, simply a tragic loss for everyone who passed through the New School.

  64. My heart goes out to his young family. I count myself lucky for having a chance to know such a kind and wonderful man.

  65. No one who passed regularly through the doors of the New School will forget Will’s warmth and big-heartedness. The very long list of comments on this webpage – in a single morning! – is testament to how many lives Will touched through his kindness, vitality and humanity. My condolences to the family and loved ones of this remarkable man.

  66. Will was someone who truly cared about others and made my day any time I entered the 12th street building. He was a friend.

    He’ll be remembered and I hope we can all keep his generous spirit alive.

  67. What tragic news. What a nice man…always a kind smile, and friendly words of greeting.
    Heartbreaking to think of his son’s loss.

  68. Will was one of the first people I met at the New School when I started there as a grad student in early 2004. He worked in the building at 65 5th Avenue then. After I graduated I worked at the New School for 4 years. Every M-Th I would stop at the security desk and talk to Will for at least 30 minutes sometimes maybe an hour. We talked about everything under the sun. He introduced me to so many people because he knew everyone. The last time I stopped by he wasn’t there and I wish I had gotten the chance to visit with him one last time. My thoughts are with his son and family during this difficult time.

  69. I didn’t know Will well, but he was definitely a highlight of my time at the New School. While rushing from my job to my evening classes, I was often stressing about one thing or another, but always felt better seeing Will’s warm, welcoming smile. We don’t always appreciate people who quietly radiate warmth and positive energy, but thinking back I imagine my time at school would have felt really different if he hadn’t been there.

    I’m so thankful to him for the kindness he showed toward everyone, every day. My heart goes out to his family and close friends.

  70. Will was an absolutely delightful part of my graduate school experience. I will always remember him fondly. My heart goes out to his family. The man showed love to the world and truly made a difference in a way many people never even try to. His energy will continue to brighten the dark days. Energy is never created nor destroyed, it only changes form.

  71. Will was always so friendly and sweet towards everyone and took the time to talk to us and get to know us more than just students at the New School. I hope you are in a better place and we will always remember your kindness and the attention you gave towards all of us.

  72. How dreadfully sad – a truly top guy. He was a wonderful ambassador to 66 W12th – it is rare to find someone in that role just so welcoming.

    Does anyone happen to know if there has been a rememberance fund setup for his son?

  73. I saw Will every Monday and Wednesday night while taking classes at the 66 West 12th Street building. He always greeted me with a hug and a smile. His gifts in human connection were immense and as important to the school as any other social justice initiative. Will embodied The New School ideal in his generosity of spirit and heart for service. I will miss him dearly.

  74. Will was an amazingly kind and wonderful person. He always made my time at the New School feel more communal and it was always a joy to speak to him in between rushing to classes. Years after graduating I would stop into 12th street just to say hi sometimes and chat about life, often talking about his son and how proud he was of him. He was so full of life and such a great man, he will be missed.

  75. Will was a true gem. It’s been four years since I left the New School, but I’ve never forgotten him. He is a testament to the endurance of true kindness and the profound impact it can have on people. Will has touched so many lives and he will surely never be forgotten.

  76. I was a student in the International Affairs Program from 2009 to 2011. Will was one of my favorite sights in that school. Even though it has been two years since I graduated, and I’ve only been back to the building a few times, he remembered my name, where I was from, and always had time to catch up and chat. I don’t think I ever saw him not smiling, and his great spirit and kindness was contagious. He has left a huge void in TNS community, and it is clear that he is deeply missed by thousands of people whose lives he touched.

    There is a school in the 66W12th street building for people to write their memories about Will in it – I am collecting these inputs via email and social media from people who cannot make it to the school to write in the book. If you want to send your thoughts via email, I’ll collect them together, print them out, and take that to the security guards at the school so that those comments will be included along with the book, which will be given to Will’s family. If you are unable to make it to the school, you can email them to emma dot saloranta (at) gmail dot com, and I’ll make sure to put them all together.

  77. I cannot believe this lovely man is gone. One of the few things I’ll never forget from my New School experience is Will’s smile and greeting every evening without fail. He was ALWAYS there with a kind word and just happiness all around him. He will be missed.

  78. Will had the wonderful ability to make you feel special and remembered and important in just a few sentences. His smile was one of the things I most looked forward to on days I had classes. I’ll always remember his shine and how he was able to pass his light mood along with just a few minutes of chatting. What a great loss…

  79. Will words can not explains how we all feel. Will smile make you smile , when you don’t want to smile. I love to hear him talk bout his son. How he is raising him to be a better person in life. Will was a Giant to me ( u all know I’m short in height. Don’t laugh). Miss he will be forgotten never. Everyone should say hello with a SMILE for Will. His smile was everyones joy. We know GOD knows BEST. However GOD took the BEST to soon. Love to my New School Family. Love you Will.


  80. I got an MFA from The New School in 2010 and didn’t walk through the doors again until 2012. Will greeted me by name that night, and I was absolutely floored. He had a gift for making every person feel special because he truly BELIEVED every person was special. At the top of the list, of course, was his son.

    I’m so sorry to hear this awful news. Does anyone know how to reach out to his family?

  81. Will was a really kind and radiant man; an absolute bright light. Every time I walked through the 12th Street doors and saw him, he brightened my day with a smile, a friendly hello, and a hug, even years after I’d graduated. His unflagging positive energy and the way he made you feel important–really genuinely cared about–when he spoke with you is a rare thing in this world. To echo Rachel’s comment above, if his family is reading this, I too hope you know how many people’s lives he touched and how much he was loved. He will be deeply missed.

  82. Will was the first person I met when I started school and probably the person I’ll remember most. I always felt good as soon as I walked through the double doors and saw him. Sometimes I’d even go the long way if I knew I’d see him. I wish he would have known how much his smile and positivity meant to me. It was everything for me and I’ll always remember that. I don’t know if his family is reading these comments, but if you are, I hope you know how sincerely he was loved. We’re all with you at this time and mourning the loss of this much loved man together.

  83. I finished up my bachelors and received my MA from The New School and Will Gary was a part of that. For me, two things stand out as I remember him. One was his smile. He always greeted everyone with that giant radiant smile. For me, it always made the idea of “school” much more palatable. Two, how disappointed I was when he was not there (how DARE he take a vacation).

    During my time at The New School, my entry to 66 W. 12th and my relationship with Will evolved from the nod and smile that men use to acknowledge one another to bro-hugs at the beginning and end of semesters and after breaks. While we never had a conversation longer than one or two sentences, his warm vibe and genuine nature transcended words for me and, I suspect, everyone who walked through those doors.

    Throughout my years there and my interactions with him, I’m embarrassed to acknowledge that I never knew his name. Once we moved into the bro-hug realm, somehow it now seemed odd to ask. So I didn’t. Besides, I rationalized, names would have just muddied our friendship.

    When I first read this I thought “Man, I hope it’s not that guy.” My heart sank when I realized it was.

    As I completed my MA and left 66 West 12th for the last time, I didn’t do anything differently. It would have upset the nature of my relationship with Will so we hugged and nodded without saying anything. There was no sense saying good-bye because Will was always going to be there.

    And now he won’t be.

    I’m sad The New School lost one of its greatest assets. I’m sad that new students will never know the comfort and warmth of Will’s nuclear smile.
    I’m sad for his family and my heart and thoughts are with them.

    I find some peace in knowing that our loss here in this world is another worlds gain.

    Something tells me that when my time comes, there on the other side ready to greet me will be Will Gary and that huge smile and we’ll bro-hug nod to one another, and as I walk away, I’ll know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

    I’ll be seeing you Will.

  84. I am still trying to wrap my head around this loss. Will was the type of person who made you feel special in a sea of people. No one will really ever know how he managed to know the names of so many people. He was by far the most popular person at the NS and it was because of his shining personality. He was a genuine soul, funny, real, and keenly aware of what was up. Even after I returned to the NS after being away for a year or so…we talked as if I had seen him yesterday. He beamed about his son all the time. I hope his son knows how much he loved him. And I hope Will knows how much he was loved. This will take a long while to get past.

  85. I was a student at the New School from 2005 to 2008. I don’t remember a lot of people with whom I attended classes, but I remember Will. He was a positive, genuine person always smiling and interested to know about you and your life. What a terrible shame that such a good-hearted soul was taken from his family early. I send them warmth and love at a very difficult time.

  86. Will was a Gem that shined 24/7.. I worked at The New School for 21+ years and knowing him as a friend was the great side of being there. He was genuine when he asked about your day. Missing him is an understatement… I am thankful for our friendship and will keep the memories close to heart.

  87. Will was truly a treasure of a human being and I was deeply saddened to learn about his passing. He was so kind and genuinely caring in his daily interaction with myself and other students, it took me a while before I believed that he was for real. Even after a few years not attending the New School he recognized me by name. He was a bright light and will be greatly missed.

  88. I was deeply saddened to read the news about Will’s passing. He had a wonderful and uplifting presence, and radiated a great love for life and other people. It is difficult to believe that this extraordinary vitality is gone. I am deeply sorry – he will be missed, and my condolences to those closest to him who must carry on without him.

  89. I am so shocked and saddened to hear this news. I took classes at the New School a couple of years ago, and William’s warmth, humor and kindness welcomed me every time I stepped into the lobby of 66 West 12th. He truly made everyone who came in feel at home and at ease. I returned to the New School last month for a lecture, and was so happy to see William again and characteristically, he greeted me warmly. His rare spirit will always be remembered. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

  90. Deepest condolences to his family and friends. Will was a beacon at The New School doors, tirelessly outgoing, engaged, and kind. He will be deeply missed. I always thought I’d see him in films.

  91. Whenever I walked through the lobby of 66 West 12th, I heard laughter, I felt warmth, and I knew I was welcomed. William Gary made all of our days brighter. He knew everyone’s name and face. He loved people and people loved him. We are saddened and shocked by this loss to our community. My thoughts go out to his son and family. William Gary was a strong man who smiled and genuinely cared about everyone he met. We love you Gary. Peace.

  92. I had a difficult go of it in college, eight years altogether. Five of which were at The New School. Will Gary was there my first day, saw me out of my first New School house party safely, gave me pointers on how to reconstruct my leg muscles in the gym after knee surgery (helped me into the elevator with my crutches), congratulated me on my marriage, and attended my graduation ceremony. Will Gary left an indelible mark on every person he came into contact with, and inspires me to be as outgoing and genuinely polite to people I have just met. *pound and a hug*

  93. I was one out of hundreds of students Will knew–but even 4 years after I graduated, whenever I walked through TNS lobby he’d say, “He-e-ey,” flash that great smile, and give me a big hug. Such a warm, kind man. Such sad news. My deepest condolences to his family.

  94. I’ve been at a loss for words all day since I found out about Will. He was my first crush at the new school and I had the pleasure of seeing him each evening as I left class or work each evening. His spirit was amazing and he always put me in a great mood whenever we had conversation. I’m happy I got to see him a couple months ago while I happened to be walking by the school. Each time I see his picture I can’t believe he is physically gone. He embodied what the university should represent and I am ecstatic he and crossed paths in our lifetime. I will always remember you and our many hour long conversations. Rest in eternal peace and I hope to have more silly conversations with you when my time comes.

  95. although I’ve been gone from New School for 2 years, Gary was one of the faces I still remember when I worked at TNS. a gentle giant with an infectious smile and always having an encouraging word. will never forget the Hulk action figure, the firm handshake or the quick bro hug.
    RIP his smile is brightening the heavens now.

  96. It’s been many years since I worked and went to school at the New School. I worked at the HelpDesk and he a guard, I ran up and down, in and out of all the building all day long. We crack jokes all day, helping each other’s day fly by. I was hoping to visit the school during the holidays. He was a former colleague I had hope to see. He was a great person and huge smile. Damn. See you on the other side WIll.

  97. I was a student and staff member at the New School from 2007 to 2009. I saw Will every week during those two years, and I came to know him as a wonderful person who brought kindness and warmth to everyone he met. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing and send my condolences to his family and the New School community. I used to jokingly call him “Mr. New School” when I saw him, because he was such a social butterfly who brightened everyone’s day. We lost a great member of the community this week.

  98. Although I never knew Will, I truly feel the loss of this amazing strong and kind human being who made such a difference in the students’ lives. RIP…

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