Hugh Silbaugh Obituary, Cause Of Death – Dear friend, Hugh Silbaugh, when the call went out for volunteers to play field hockey against the NMH team, you, of course, did not hesitate and smiled through it all. You were always there for your students and colleagues. Thank you for your friendship and mentorship. One person today said to me, “You must feel like you lost an older brother today.” That’s right. You will be missed by me and by many other educators and students whose lives you impacted so greatly.
I’m sad to hear that my old friend Hugh Silbaugh passed away suddenly. Hugh and I first met in ’91-’92. He was a young new (and brilliant) admin at The Putney School and I was one of his early hires. We met over oatmeal in Brattleboro and talked about me teaching art at Putney. “Oatmeal” would become our codeword over the years for bonding and helping each other out. We had a great core group and we worked closely together.
I stayed at Putney for almost 20 years! Hugh was just a few years older than me and we had a running gag over the decades that he was like my big brother and could alert me to what was coming up next in life. Chapters were as easy as “I can’t believe I have to trim my g-d nose hair” to deep passages about looking for a path, finding a place in life and questioning it, and navigating the changes that come to life’s expectations and experiences.
We sometimes connected to compare notes about school positions and applicants, and we met up when we could during my visits back to VT. The last time we hung out, it was great to see him enjoying his home and engaged in some renovations. And our last correspondence was in June, when we reminisced about some of the big stuff that we’d gone through together.
I thought about seeing his kids growing up in the early days (they knew me as “Hey Man!” because that’s how I greeted them). And when my first wife and I split, Hugh was there with a friendly invitation for “oatmeal,” as you can see from his post-it. I kept it all these years as a reminder. I’m happy to learn that he got to hear his favorite poem before he died, Gary Snyder’s “Axe Handles.” But what a shock. He was my 5th friend to go in a short span of time. Sending my condolences to Hugh’s family and friends.