Robert M. "Stretch" Gardiner ’40

Robert M. “Stretch” Gardiner ’40

With heavy hearts, we remember and honor Robert M. “Stretch” Gardiner ’40, who passed away on Saturday, November 3, at the age of 95. Stretch’s legacy at Trinity-Pawling is profound. He was a member of the Class of 1940 of the Pawling School and was President of the Board of Trustees of Trinity-Pawling from 1991 to 2003. Stretch first joined the Board in 1986 and was an instrumental leader in the life of Trinity-Pawling School. In 1991, Stretch served as Campaign Chair for the “Our Heritage, Our Future” capital campaign which raised $12.5M and led to the reconstruction of Cluett, the construction of McGraw Pavilion, and increased funds for faculty salaries and scholarships. Most recently, Stretch challenged the school community to “Stretch with Stretch” which raised nearly $400,000 last spring.

The Gardiner Library and Learning Commons and the Gardiner Theater stand as physical testaments to Stretch’s generosity and leadership. The School as a whole, however, has been forever enriched by his leadership. His confidence in the School, particularly the strength of its faculty, was infectious. His optimism and “can do” spirit were catalysts for the School’s growth as an institution. With his passing, the School has lost a giant in its history. His legacy, though, will endure for years. Trinity-Pawling has forever been enriched by Stretch’s profound leadership and generosity.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Stretch’s wife Liz and the entire Gardiner family.

Read more about  the life of Robert M. “Stretch” Gardiner ’40 here.

Trinity-Pawling Holiday Events


December 4, 2018 — 6:00-8:00 PM

Join us for the Boston Holiday Reception at Harvard Club of Boston
374 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

This event is graciously hosted by Peggy and Phil Haughey ’53


December 9, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Please join us for Trinity-Pawling’s traditional
Candlelight Service at All Saints’ Chapel

Reception to follow at Gamage House
700 Route 22, Pawling, NY

This event is graciously hosted by Jennifer and Bill Taylor


December 10, 2018 — 6:30-8:30 PM

Join the fun at our New York City Holiday Reception
101 East 69th Street, New York, NY

For this event, please note that jacket and tie are required for gentlemen and equal formal attire for ladies. No jeans or sneakers are permitted.

The NYC Reception is graciously hosted by Jean Doyen de Montaillou and Michael Kovner ’58


RSVP for all events by November 30, 2018 


Trinity-Pawling Joe McElligott


Joe McElligott spent four years at Trinity-Pawling on scholarship. McElligott discovered later that his benefactor was Stretch Gardiner ’40. “If it weren’t for Mr. Gardiner, I never would have been able to complete four years at T-P.”

This fall, the Joseph B. McElligott IV ’02 Endowed Scholarship Fund was established, specifically to assist young men who would be unable to return for their senior year due to financial pressures. “I wanted to help kids fulfill their dream of graduating from Trinity-Pawling,” McElligott explained. “Financial hardship can strike a family at any time, and creating this scholarship allows me to actually make a difference.”

McElligott’s connection to Stretch Gardiner had deeper roots than he had realized. “Stretch was very involved in the Boys Club of New York, and I had been shaped by that organization starting in elementary school. I made the Boys Club basketball travel team in 8th grade and that’s how I found my way to T-P.”

Gardiner became a mentor to McElligott who has worked on Wall Street since graduating from Wesleyan in 2006. The 35-year old alum now models his philanthropy after Gardiner’s example. “I learned to give back after I started joining boards of several nonprofits. I work my butt off to make money not for myself but to use it to help others. I was the recipient of a generous scholarship, and now I want to provide the same opportunity so other boys like me can succeed.”

By cutting that check to Trinity-Pawling, McElligott believes he can have a tangible impact on a young man’s future and honor the institution that shaped him. “The Advancement Office has said I’m the youngest alum to establish an endowed scholarship fund, but quite honestly, that’s a record I sincerely hope will be broken. I encourage my alumni brothers who have the ability to step up and do the same. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to give back to this school which gave me so much. T-P taught me to set high goals and work diligently to achieve them. My goal is to help others, so I’m headed in the right direction.”

The School tips its hat to you, Joe! Thanks for helping other young men achieve their dream.

by Maria Buteux Reade 


Trinity-Pawling Bruce Birns


Bruce Birns ’70 has spent the past 48 years trying to prove to Miles Hubbard that he should have seen more playing time.

He recalls his senior year: “1969, all hell was breaking loose with Cambodia, Kent State, Vietnam. My biggest concern? Making varsity basketball. The team was ranked second in the Tri State League but I convinced Miles to keep me anyways.” Birns slid to the far end of the bench and joined the 30-30-200 Club. “Miles would play us for the last 30 seconds if we were 30 points ahead or behind, and our parents had traveled for 200 miles or more to see the game.”

Birns’ love for basketball has never waned. He plays hoops weekly in an intense Manhattan lawyers’ league and holds season tickets to the Knicks. Birns had a 30-year career as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx and now works on the other side of the courtroom as a criminal defense lawyer. He also has developed a credible side gig acting in television crime dramas including Law & Order. Birns is currently working on a TV pilot and writes courtroom scenes for a movie project with Chris Noth.

But his best career move? “I married Rachel in 2012. She’s 25 years my junior and we have two amazing sons, Josh and Matty, 5 and 3. I’m in the gym five days a week so I can keep up with them. I figure I’ll be 100 when they graduate from T-P.”

Every February, Birns returns for the last game of the season. “Miles sets me up with a rack of balls before the game and I shoot free throws and three pointers.” In 2010, that morphed into a contest where Birns became the ‘celebrity shooter’ at halftime. For every three-pointer he made, he would donate $25 to the annual fund.

“Shooting in an empty gym is one thing. Standing at the line in front of a packed raucous house is another. Each ball felt 500 pounds!” The first year, he went 0 for 6. “In an attempt to save face, I stepped up my pledge to 50 bucks a pop and incredibly, I made the next four, swishing the last three. It was the best 200 bucks I ever spent.”

The tradition now involves 20 free throws at $25 each and 5 three-pointers at $100 apiece. In 2016, Birns went 19 for 20. Hubbard couldn’t believe it. This past September, with Hubbard as witness, Birns hit 14 free throws and 4 shots from the top of the key. “I turned to him expectantly and said, ‘So what d’ya think?’ Miles smiled and said, ‘I think you write a check for 750 bucks. And, I still wouldn’t have played you.’ ”

Birns figures he’s dished out $4500 to the annual fund since 2010. “50 years later, I’m still driven by a desperate need to convince Miles he overlooked my prowess back in 1969. This is getting expensive but I’m not giving up.”

Keep the faith, Bruce. Josh and Matty may secure the Birns basketball legacy in a few years…

by Maria Buteux Reade

Trinity-Pawling Sam Fechner


From hustling on the basketball court to playing an original composition on the piano, Sam Fechner ’20 is a young man of many talents. He is a junior from Hamburg, Germany and in his first year at Trinity-Pawling — a community he cherishes. “Everyone cares about me here. My teachers and friends give me support when I need it and it’s clear that they want me to succeed,” Fechner shared. “It’s a great community to be a part of.”

Fechner discovered Trinity-Pawling through a connection between his basketball coach in Germany, Levi Levine, and Bill Casson, head coach for Trinity-Pawling’s varsity basketball team. “Coach Levine knew that my dream was to play college basketball in America and that Trinity-Pawling would help me get there,” Fechner explained.

He first picked up a basketball about ten years ago, when he tagged along with a friend to a club basketball practice. “I originally started playing soccer, as most kids in Germany do,” Fechner shared. “After that first practice though, I knew basketball was my game.” Since then, Fechner has excelled in the sport, winning state championships in Hamburg and playing in the highest basketball league in Germany.

But his jump shot is only one of he many talents. Besides being a stellar student and athlete (he also runs cross country for Trinity-Pawling), Fechner is also a gifted pianist. “My mom encouraged me to start playing piano about eight years ago, and I’m so grateful she did,” Fechner explained. “I immediately fell in love with it.” Even with his busy schedule between school and basketball, he has always made time to sit down at the piano and play — even writing his own compositions. The Trinity-Pawling community had the privilege of hearing one of his original pieces earlier this month in an all-school assembly. Fechner composed “Elegy for the Bike” in memory of a bicycle he received from his grandfather. When he completed his performance, he received a standing ovation from the entire school. “That was the best feeling in the world,” he recalled, smiling.

As he eagerly heads into basketball season, Fechner is grateful for the lessons he has learned from playing piano, and intends to keep playing and composing. “Playing piano has taught me patience, hand coordination, and how to do multiple things at the same time. These all help me with basketball too,” he said. “Both piano and basketball are places of refuge for me and motivate me to push myself and keep improving.”

With the fall term almost behind us, Fechner has thoroughly enjoyed his first few months at Trinity-Pawling and he looks forward to what’s ahead — on the court, behind the piano, and everywhere in between.

by Emma Christiantelli

Bill Taylor Trinity-Pawling


To facilitate effective pedagogy in a changing world, teachers must be lifelong learners. Trinity-Pawling faculty can find opportunities for Professional Development in various forms through an initiative put forth by the Trinity-Pawling Board of Trustees. Amy Foster holds the key to this funding — a generous budget — and sends almost all faculty to at least two opportunities for Professional Development every year. These opportunities include off-campus conferences and seminars, and recently, online databases.

Trinity-Pawling is a member of both OESIS (Online Education Strategies for Independent Schools), and NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools). The advantage of these resources comes in the accessible and collaborative nature of an online database. With both live video seminars and a catalogue of past objectives, a busy teacher can pursue Professional Development whenever they are able. Any Professional Development directly benefits the community as a whole; as one teacher learns they directly influence their students, and then other students as they share novel methods and ideology with Trinity-Pawling faculty.

Headmaster Taylor says that there is value in continued learning for any teacher, from those in their first year to those in their thirtieth. Highlights from this year include an annual Classroom Management conference held by NYSAIS at Trinity-Pawling School. New faculty at Trinity-Pawling attended the conference, where they learned and reflected with teachers from over 25 Independent Schools in New York. The LEAD Program cohort attended The International Dyslexia Association’s annual Dyslexiacon in October, and school administrators learned at the OESIS Boston Convention earlier this month. An innovative school must grow from the top down, thanks to Bill Taylor, the Board of Trustees, Amy Foster, and all of the hard work faculty give in and out of the classroom.

by Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris

Trinity-Pawling Tim Sullivan


Ever heard of a Bermuda hog?  Tim Sullivan ’94 had, and he wondered why it would be included on menus in the U.S., but not on those in its native island! It’s just this type of common sense, yet forward thinking that has catapulted Sullivan to an incredible career in the food industry. Executive chef for 7 ½ years at Great Performances, the leading catering and events company in New York City (with partners as renowned as The Plaza Hotel and Jazz at Lincoln Center), Sullivan is now stretching new muscles as the Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations for the Loren at Pink Beach, a boutique luxury hotel in Bermuda.

“When I investigated the food scene in Bermuda last year, I was shocked that island restaurants weren’t incorporating the farm-to-table trend that has exploded in the United States. While serving many of the same clientele as chic American eateries, they weren’t aligning mission with cuisine, an ideal their patrons had come to expect and demand up north. We’ve made a conscious choice to shift that — whenever possible, we choose local, and we change our menu with the growing seasons,” Sullivan comments.

His innovative initiatives have proved fruitful, in more ways than one. Not only is Loren a hot resort destination (even in what is now considered the off-season, all 40 rooms are sold-out!), its culinary team is developing key relationships with island farmers, fisherman and producers, and truly supporting the local economy.

“We could ship in strawberries in November, not knowing how long they’ve been out of the ground, or we can rotate our menu to include berries when they are ripe, right here on the island! We’re defining what fresh, quality Bermudian cuisine really is, each and every day of the year,” Sullivan explains.

Tim’s journey actually began right here in Pawling, at the well-loved restaurant McKinney and Doyle. Similar to the path of many great chefs, he started off as a dishwasher — when someone called out sick in the salad station, Sullivan was the first to volunteer and pitch in. The rest is culinary history!

“I remember nervously telling Mr. Coratti that I had to leave wrestling practice early to make my shift at McKinney — I don’t know how he felt about it at the time, but sensed that he saw my passion for cooking early on,” Sullivan reflects.

Truly, it is that very special aspect of Trinity-Pawling — the close relationships with faculty — that Tim values most highly. It was at the School, and through the support of teachers, that he learned how to push himself and started really thinking about his future.

“Even though I attended another private school for the first two years of high school, I never experienced the camaraderie that is so ever-present at T-P. The friendships you build and the support you receive from faculty create an incredible culture — at Trinity-Pawling, Sullivan comments. “It was cool to succeed!”

An important lesson learned early on, Sullivan’s “cool success” is certainly taking him to wonderful places in his career! For more information on Sullivan’s restaurants, visit Great Performances and The Loren at Pink Beach.

by Kate Vengrove

Trinity-Pawling Chris Kelsey


Chris Kelsey does what most of us cannot: he makes something from nothing. It sounds like a magic trick, like a miraculous conjuration . . . but for Kelsey such inspiration happens as naturally as breathing in and out.

“It feels like my stories are already written,” he says. “As though these characters and actions and settings already exist. Some artists prepare and outline and plan, others fly by the seat of their pants: I’m definitely a Pantser.”

Chris Kelsey is an award-winning composer, performer, recording artist, writer, and author whose first novel — Where the Hurt is — currently ranks #1 on Amazon’s list of downloaded mystery novels. It’s a remarkable list of achievements for one who also serves as Director of Instrumental Music at Trinity-Pawling School. But the life that takes place around him is what seems to fuel Kelsey’s own creative fire.

“When I’m reading, I’m reminded of stories that I’m creating in my own imagination. When I listen to music, I’m reminded of compositions I’m building, myself. It’s an intrinsic part of who I am; it just happens.”

He is known as a musical artist who specializes in improvisation; he sees writing in a similar light:

“Whether in music or in writing, improvisation is the culmination of every scale I’ve mastered, every hour I’ve practiced, every page I’ve read, every hour I’ve lived” he says. “I just listen and observe, and go where the story wants to go. In the end, the creative process — and the created product — always seems inevitable.”

Spoken like a true Pantser.

by John Teaford

Trinity-Pawling Robert Yunich


Bob Yunich ’61 has a strong conviction that music should be enjoyed as part of everyday life or, in the words of Leonard Bernstein, “I can’t live one day without hearing music, playing it, studying it, or thinking about it.” Yunich also believes that young people need to realize the musical universe extends beyond current popular music.

After graduation from Trinity-Pawling in 1961, Yunich earned a BA from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard University. He spent most of his career in the financial services industry. Although a passion for music blossomed through a required course in Music Humanities that Yunich took at Columbia, which led to a lifetime appreciation of a broad range of compositions dubbed ‘classical’ music and the performing arts, particularly opera and Broadway musicals.

Yunich believes in the power of music and the performing arts as a means of enriching the students’ academic life and experience at Trinity-Pawling. Therefore, through a generous gift this year, Yunich and his wife Joanne have established a Musician-In-Residence Program at the School. The Joanne J. and Robert H. Yunich Musician-In-Residence Program aims to inspire students towards careers in music and the performing arts, encourage further study of the arts after graduation, or simply help them discover an appreciation for a variety of music genres.

The Musician-in-Residence Program will be built around the Pawling Concert Series, now in its 45th year. The series started in 1973 and is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.  Trinity-Pawling School provides the venues for the five different concerts performed each year. In addition to providing all students the opportunity to attend at least one of the concerts, the Musician-In-Residence Program will allow students to engage personally with one of the performing groups. The selection for the Musician-In-Residence Program this year will be Davina & the Vagabonds. With great critical acclaim, Davina (Sowers) and the Vagabonds have become one of the most exciting acoustic ensembles on the international stage, having performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. With influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits, the band draws from the last 100 years of American music. The group will be on campus April 26, 2019.

Thank you, Bob and Joanne for your generosity and sharing your love of music with the boys of Trinity-Pawling!

by Judy Redder

Trinity-Pawling Football


The lower team soccer season ended with a couple of victories including 4th soccer’s 6-1 win against Storm King and JV soccer defeating Canterbury in their season finale.

The varsity football team concluded their season with a 24-7 win at Kent on a cold and rainy Friday night. Quarterback Donté Williams ’20 provided much of the offense with some help from Jake ’19 and Zack Conlan ’20. Captain Eddie Gonzalez ’19 played well on the line, kicked a field goal, extra points, and punted. His contributions have been invaluable. Aleksi Olavuo ’19 and Quran Rahman ’19 also played well on the line for the Pride. The team finishes the season with a 4-4 record.

Varsity soccer continued to struggle achieving wins against some difficult competition. Captain Jack Haims ’19 was selected to play in the All Star game for the Pride. Hayden Collins ’23 scored a goal in the team’s final game at Kingswood, which gives the coaches some excitement about the future of the program.

The cross country team finished their season at the New England race at Avon Old Farms School. Captain Nick Grande ’19 continued to lead the pack for the Pride. Following Nick were Sam Fechner ’20, Jack Long ’21, Toby Berner ’21, and Jimmy Nolan ’21. Ben Yoon ’20 ran his best race of the season as the top JV runner for Trinity-Pawling. The team was young and it improved with each race. Coach McDougal is excited to get next season started.

The JV football team finished their season with a 5-2-1 record. This team consisted of many newcomers to the sport and some lower varsity players.

Congratulations on a terrific season!

Tune in to watch the winter season live.

by Brian Foster ’79

Trinity-Pawling Hockey


Join us for a friendly hockey game for all ages!

Where: Tirrell Rink, Trinity-Pawling Campus

When: Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Who: Any and all Trinity-Pawling Hockey Alumni

Make sure to stick around and watch Trinity-Pawling varsity take on Loomis-Chaffee at 4:00 PM in their home opener!

RSVP at or call 845-855-4881.

Trinity-Pawling Fund


Important discoveries are happening all over campus, every day.

From the classroom, to the field, to the dorm, students uncover their own greatness at Trinity-Pawling. Watch how your gift to the Trinity-Pawling Fund supports them all the way. Please consider a donation today.

With your support, the possibilities are endless!

Thank you for your generosity.