Don Loughlin (front left) with  faculty members and 1959 GO leaders, including class President Jerry Asher (front center).

Huntington Boys’ Lax Founder Passes Away

Don Loughlin (front left) with faculty members and 1959 GO leaders, including class President Jerry Asher (front center).

April 6, 2018

Donald Loughlin, who founded the Huntington High School boys’ lacrosse program in 1955 has passed away. He was 91 years old and lived in Victor, New York outside of Rochester.

Mr. Loughlin returned to Huntington in the fall of 2009 for the 50th anniversary reunion of the high school’s Class of 1959. It was the first class to graduate from the “new” Huntington High School. Mr. Loughlin was its faculty advisor.

In 2008, Mr. Loughlin’s request to create a scholarship fund to annually honor the boys’ lacrosse team’s most valuable player was approved by the Huntington School Board. A plaque and check have been presented at the Blue Devil senior athletic awards dinner to the scholarship winner since June 2009.

Born December 4, 1926 in Brooklyn, Mr. Loughlin began his Huntington teaching career on September 3, 1952. A 1941 junior high graduate of Belmont Boulevard School in Elmont and a 1944 graduate of Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, he immediately went to work for Bell Labs in New York City as a messenger before finding himself embroiled in World War II in September of that year, serving in the U.S. Navy and rising to the rank of 3rd class fire controlman in the South Pacific theater.

He served two years in the Navy, participating in the liberation of the Philippines along with the bloody invasion of Okinawa. Once discharged, Mr. Loughlin enrolled at Adelphi University, quickly became active in the student government and joined the lacrosse team, a squad he eventually captained. He was also president of the Adelphi Athletic Association.

During college Mr. Loughlin worked part-time as a salesman at Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Hempstead. After graduating from Adelphi with a Bachelor of Science degree he went to work in August 1950 as assistant to the president of Micro-Lite in New York City. He later worked as a cost accountant for Standard Brands in Manhattan, a post he held until he began his teaching career.

Mr. Loughlin was recalled to active military duty in June 1951 during the Korean War and served six months in Europe before a final discharge. Following a student teaching stint at Sewanhaka High School, he applied for a job in Huntington on April 12, 1952.

The strapping 6’, 165 lb. military vet and former college athlete was hired to work as a business teacher at Robert L. Simpson High School, as Huntington High School was then known. The school was located on Main Street in what is now Town Hall.

After he was appointed to his position by the Huntington School Board, but before he ever stepped foot in a classroom, he was offered an assistant lacrosse coaching position at Adelphi that held out for him the opportunity for a reduced-cost master’s degree. He asked district officials for permission to accept the after school assignment and was turned down as administrators thought he would be spreading himself too thin so early in his teaching career.

Instead, Mr. Loughlin became a central figure in Huntington, initiating the lacrosse program here in 1955. He also served as vice president of the Long Island-Metropolitan Lacrosse Association. He was the Blue Devil head coach until 1959 when he turned the program over to legendary Cliff Murray after being named assistant principal at the high school.

Mr. Loughlin served as president of the Adelphi College Alumni Association, was appointed as alumni representative to the Adelphi Board of Trustees and was president of the Suffolk County Business Teachers Association. He is a member of the Adelphi Athletic Hall of Fame.

After rapidly earning the respect of students, staff and the Huntington community, he was identified as holding the basic skills of leadership and organization needed for a successful career as a school administrator. With the opening of the new Huntington High School in late November 1958, the School Board decided to create a second assistant principal position to handle the influx of about 400 freshmen added to the high school building. Mr. Loughlin was hired to fill the new administrative post.

His responsibilities as AP included the areas of discipline, pupil activities, school budgets and attendance and teacher orientation. The new position required him to step down from coaching and from serving as director of the district’s adult education program.

Mr. Loughlin earned a master’s degree on June 1, 1954 at the Columbia University School of Business. By February 1960, he had completed another 30 post-graduate credits at Columbia.

During his time in Huntington, Mr. Loughlin married, became a father to two children and settled down in Northport. He served a stretch as president of the Kiwanis Club in Huntington His career here ended at the same time Robert Cushman’s 18-year tenure as high school principal came to a close.

Mr. Loughlin hoped to replace Mr. Cushman as the high school principal, but the district instead hired someone from outside the school system to assume the post. Mr. Loughlin then submitted a letter of resignation to Mr. Cushman, asking for it to become effective July 15, 1968 so he could assume new duties as principal of brand new Rush-Henrietta-Sperry High School in the Rochester area. Mr. Cushman often referred to Mr. Loughlin as his “right hand man.”

One of the only visible signs remaining of Mr. Loughlin’s time in Huntington rests in the treasure trove of yearbooks tucked away in a storage area beneath the School Heritage Museum at the high school. In the 1959 edition, there’s a photo of Mr. Cushman, Mr. Loughlin and Raymond A. Hettler, who was hired as an assistant principal at R.L. Simpson High School in 1955, exiting the new high school building following a tour of the facility days before students flooded into the school for the first time.

Mr. Loughlin served as principal of Rush-Henrietta’s Sperry High School from July 1968 through June 1988. The district is massive, consisting of 100 square miles of large tract housing and strip shopping centers. During this time he also served as president of the School Administrators of New York and on the Board of Directors of Junior Achievement. He also worked as a high school lacrosse official.

Don Loughlin (right) exiting the new high school after a final pre-opening tour.
Don Loughlin (right) exiting the new high school after a final pre-opening tour.
Don Loughlin in 1958.
Don Loughlin in 1958.
Donald Loughlin as principal of Sperry High School in Rush-Henrietta, New York.
Donald Loughlin as principal of Sperry High School in Rush-Henrietta, New York.
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