Brother Andrew O’Gara, the longtime principal of St. Raymond’s Boys High School in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away recently, kicking off a remembrance of the man so many young men in the area looked up as a role model.
O’Gara was the principal of St. Raymond’s Boys High School, located 2151 E. Tremont Avenue, from 1965 to 1979, taking the reins of the school shortly after the Vatican II edicts. He passed away on Saturday, November 8.
According to Tim Hanson, director of advancement for the school, O’Gara was a much beloved figure to the men who attended school under his tutelage when he was principal.
“He was here several weeks ago at our Class of 1968 Reunion, and got a standing ovation from the members of that class,” Hanson said. “That is the type of legacy he has left in all parts of the Bronx and beyond.”
Hanson said that many St. Raymond’s alumni attended O’Gara’s wake and funeral, which was held in Lincroft, New Jersey. O’Gara, 80, had become president of the Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey in 1991. He held that position until his death.
“There were over 2,300 people who attended his wake on the first night, and more than 4,000 people who attended his funeral,” Hanson stated. “We plan on having a moment of silence during our basketball season to honor Br. O’Gara.”
A native of the Bronx, O’Gara left home to study at the Christian Brothers high school noviate in Tarrytown, NY. In 1946, he received the habit of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. After studies at Catholic University and Manhattan College, Br. O’Gara served as a teacher and administrator at LaSalle Academy and Lincoln Hall Catholic Preparatory School for Boys before coming to St. Raymond’s.
His presence at St. Raymond’s Boys High School left an indelible impression on the generation of students who came through the doors. O’Gara is described as running the school with an iron fist, but at the same time possessing an infectious smile that influenced many to experience the lighter side of his personality. He served as the conscience of the boys of the school, and his affect was felt years after St. Raymond’s.
Many students recall that detention was given for being late and other infractions of school rules, and the punishment was that the students were had to stand against the wall outside of Brother Andrew’s office. Firm but fair, he made the school, which was still relatively new having been founded in 1960, a success.
“The thing that comes to mind most is that Brother Andrew was one of those remarkable people that could be a very real person, and at the same time an iconic figure,” said John Roche, a family friend. “He embodied St. Raymond’s High School – not only was he the longtime principal but it was through the work of his hands that the school’s reputation for excellence was built.”