Please leave your personal stories and/or comments about Mr. Webster here. We will cherish all of them.
IMPORTANT: Please start your comments with your name, your age (if you are a student), and how you knew Mr. Webster. Thank you all.
Please leave your personal stories and/or comments about Mr. Webster here. We will cherish all of them.
IMPORTANT: Please start your comments with your name, your age (if you are a student), and how you knew Mr. Webster. Thank you all.
199 thoughts on “Leave and view messages…”
Just wanted all of you who took the time to leave a message for Gary on this Memorial page to know, that I read each and every one of your messages to him before he passed. Can’t tell you how much he appreciated your kind thoughts and comments. Four years has gone by quickly. You are missed buddy! Big time!
I posted this on my Facebook wall yesterday, the 3rd anniversary of my Uncle Gary’s passing, along with a link to American Pie by Don McLean.
It was three years ago today when the world had the misfortune of losing one of its most beautiful people. I don’t know what my Uncle Gary’s opinion was of this song, but he was a big fan of trivia and was always testing my knowledge of artists, lyrics, albums, songs, etc. I think he would have appreciated talking with me about the various references in the lyrics. I wish we had.
So much about this song reminds me of him today. He was a like a rock star to the students he taught — probably thousands over his decades-long career. Things changed for many, many people after he died. My uncle’s reach was so great that a friend of mine from here in Chicago heard of my uncle’s passing from a friend of hers in Valparaiso where he had taught this friend’s kids.
My Uncle Gary was so dedicated to teaching that his estate supports two ongoing programs — the Gary Webster Young Musicians Fund, providing guitar lessons in schools, and the Gary Webster Memorial Scholarship Fund, given each year to a college student majoring in elementary education. He was wealthier in the human spirit than in money, but he made sure he could have an impact beyond his living years.
What I think most impresses people who knew him was how humble he was — how it was so obvious that he simply took great pleasure in being around his family, his friends, his colleagues and his students. One thousand people showed up to his memorial at his school and at least 100 were at his “private” memorial service. Can you imagine having touched so many people that more than 1,000 show up to pay respects for your passing? I’ll never be that person, but at least I have an example to inspire me to be a positive influence however I can.
We all miss you, Uncle G.
I thought of you today, but that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday and the days before that too.
I think of you in silence. I often speak your name.
All I have is memories and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is a keepsake from which I’ll never part.
God has you in His arms, but we have you in our hearts.
You’r not forgotten.
I never had Mr.Webster as a teacher, but he seemed to be one of the nicest at Cooks. I always wanted him as a teacher, but we moved when I was in third grade. I loved to hear the funny stories that my older siblings would tell. Now I wish I knew him better. When I look back at the year books, I would laugh at the pictures of him with his extravagant hats and his happy smile. Whenever I passed him in the hallways he was always smiling. When I left Cooks and moved to France, I would compare the schools. There were nothing at all to compare. And now when I think of Cooks, I think of Mr.Webster and all he did for us.
This comment is one I want to share that came from many of my former coworkers, students, and parents from when I was teaching. When I taught fourth grade in Southwest Allen County Schools, we took a field trip to Dunes State Park. On some of the trips my brother, Gary Webster met us there and took the kids on their adventure. Many of those teachers who were there, parents who accompanied us, and even students have commented to me what a dynamic, caring teacher he was. One teacher commented, “He had the undivided attention of one hundred, fourth graders who had just met him. That is no small feat.” I find it really amazing that students, parents, and teachers from many years ago who met him only once remember him and the things he could do. He was one in a million, and I could not be prouder of him.
Gary Webster ranks in the top few of the finest educators I met in my 30+ years of teaching in Valparaiso. He didn’t simply teach his students – he loved them unconditionally. It is my hope that every student in every school gets to have a “Gary Webster” at least once in his or her school career! Rest in peace, Gary!
I went to 5th grade at Hayes Leonard Elementary school. At that time we there was two 5th grade classes. I had Mr. Hughes as my fifth grade teacher but both classes were very tight nit and we did share alot of class time together.
Mr. Webster was liked by everyone. The one thing I noticed right away was that at Mr. Webster didn’t talk to us like we were kids in the way kids generally have adults speak with them. He had a gift that very few teachers have when it comes to teaching. I remember he had a great sense of humor and the class time was never boring, it was something totally new to me and I will remember that forever.
Dear Webster Family,
I did not know Gary as an adult but knew his family and oldest sister, Janet, when they lived down the street from us in Merrillville. I am truely sorry for your loss. After reading many of the posts here including my nephew Chad Sorrick’s it is obvious he was truely a gift to all who knew him. May his memory, spirit, and the love felt for him sustain you during this difficult time.
Jean Rainford Patton
Mr.Webster was the best teacher I ever had. Even after I had gone off to middle school at TJ he would come to all my cross country meets. He would always start a conversation during social studies and we would fall so far behind and he wouldn’t mind; he always made sure we had the most fun we could have. I never had a teacher who would take the time to take my classes on field trips but he took us on so many. All he cared is that we enjoyed learning; we loved it. Mr.Webster I love you and miss you very much! (Sorry for my terrible grammer in this comment )
You never know the exact path that your life is taking. However, I did know that our special needs program / class was moving to Cooks Corners. After the introductory meeting with the staff (at Cooks Corners), I was filled with trepidation. There was this “gruff” man asking a million questions. As I left the meeting, I remember feeling that the move to Cooks was going to be quite a challenge! Little did I know that the “gruff” man, Gary Webster, would become our biggest supporter, the protector (of all kids), and my friend.
Gary would daily get our kids off of the buses, eat lunch in the cafeteria with us, insist that our students be placed in his home room , walk to our room and say good morning / hello to each and everyone of the kids, and include us in all the 4th grade annual /special events whether the student was a fourth grader or not. There was never a question that our special needs students be included in field trips (which meant overnight considerations) at Camp Tecumseh and /or physically assisting our kids (and staff) up Mount Baldy … He did it ALL!!!
Gary was an exceptional person! I feel honored and blessed to have been one of Gary’s colleagues and above all, I will always cherish the friendship we shared.
I miss you and thank you G-dubs. I promise to read, ” Be Good to Eddie Lee” in your honor every year to the fourth graders … Reminding everyone that, “It’s what’s inside that counts.”
My heartfelt condolences to Mr. Webster’s family, friends, and students. Although my brothers and I were in Mrs. Brown’s class, Mr. Webster still knew all of our names, and even my little brother and sister names as well. We lived on Joliet road back in the day. If the bus had not picked us up yet and Mr. Webster drove by, he would back up, pick us up and take us to Hayes Leonard. I will also always remember dancing in his class at recess and him teaching us the basics of soccer, volleyball, and basketball during after school sports. He had a big impact on my education and my life, whether he realized it or not. He is the epitome of what a teacher should represent: caring, compassion, empathy, and transmitter of knowledge from one generation to the next. Thanks for all you did for me and my family Mr. Webster. We will never forget you.
Mr. Webster went through 4 of my brothers and sisters and also me. He made us have the best of memories. When I found out he died, I started crying and I couldn’t stop because it was so sad. My favorite memories of him was when we went to camp T and we had to wake up at 6:30 every morning. Another one of my favorites was the living history museum. We all will pray for you and I hope you remember all of your students and I’m going to where a tie every year on the day you died. Thank you for being the best teacher every and making everybody happy.
P.S. never call Mr. Webster bro
Dear Mr. Webster,
Thank you for all that you’ve done and for impacting my life. I remember the camp Tecumseh trip when we sang the way there, sang most of the trip, sang the way back. I remember every Friday when you sent my friends and I to go get the balls from the field. I remember when I got to watch the wizard of oz in 5th grade also because I helped you carry the milk
Mr. Webster, I never had you as a teacher but you did teach me a lot of things. I always loved when you would spray the crowd at the shower of shame on field day. Like I said, I never had you as a teacher but you were like one to me. My sister had you and I really wanted to be in your class.
When I had bad days you would cheer me up and make them good. I liked that you noticed the little things of life, like you would greet me each day when I got to school. You also played with kids on the playground and sat with them at lunch. You were always nice to me and I loved your ties and hats. You were always up for school, and no matter what, you wanted to see your students and be at school. You were the BEST TEACHER EVER and Cooks Corners will never be the same without you. You will always be in my heart. I will get lost in a book, I will sing a happy song, I will never be too old to be a kid, and I will SPARKLE. Love, Chris Fisher
Dear Mr. Webster,
You were a great teacher. Even if I did not have you I still think you were great. I allready miss you but I have a lot of ways to rember you. The bookmark,the sign at school, and many others. For some people you are gone but not for me.
Still in our hearts, David Coombs
I didn’t know Gary very well but I did have the pleasure to go to a college football game with Gary and Cory. We had such a great time and this will always be in my memories. Just reading the other comments it sounds like Gary impacted so many lifes. He will be missed dearly by many
We were so very sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Webster. Mr. Webster touched the lives of both our boys. Logan had him for 4th grade, and as others have noted, he considered himself lucky to have gotten him as a teacher. Even though Logan is now a Junior in HS, Mr. Webster is still his favorite teacher. Logan loved the after-school sports that Mr. Webster did for the kids. Mr. Webster also often came to the basketball games and cross-country meets that Logan was involved in, and cheered him on. Logan really appreciated this. Mr. Webster also touched the life of our son Shane in a very big way. Mr. Webster was a friend to the special education class at Cooks, where Shane was a student. For 5 years, Mr. Webster helped Shane off the bus in the morning and was his lunch buddy each afternoon, often sneaking Shane extra breadsticks because he knew that was Shane’s favorite. We appreciated so much Mr. Webster accommodating our special kids’ issues during events like Field Day and Musical Pools, so that they could participate and have fun too. When Shane was with us at Logan’s sporting events and Mr. Webster was there, he’d always make a point of coming over and sitting with us for awhile to visit with Shane. Mr. Webster was Shane’s friend, and we always felt that Shane was special to Mr. Webster too. Words can’t express how much this meant to us. With our backyard next to Cooks’ playground, we were always able to hear Mr. Webster’s big voice when he was outside with the kids…we will miss this. We were all blessed to have known this wonderful, caring teacher. Deb, Bill, Logan, Shane Meeter
MR. WEBSTER-YOU WERE A LIGHTHOUSE FOR COOKS CORNERS SCHOOL-STANDING STRONG & SHINING YOUR LIGHT-AS YOU WATCHED OVER THE CHILDREN AND GUIDED THEM. MAY YOU REST IN THE PEACE OF JESUS.
Dear Mr. Webster,
We were like individual stars in the sky, shining and sparkling in our own special way. Then we got assigned to your class and you became our teacher and things changed. You connected us in a way that made us a part of something bigger and better. Together we became a group of stars that formed a pattern, a constellation. We will never forget you or what that felt like. Even death cannot take away what you gave to us. Thank you, Love, Danne
Our daughter, Caroline, had Mr. Webster two years ago-the last year he taught fourth grade. She and her friends were so excited to be in his class !
As has been mentioned many times, Mr. Webster truly cared about each child as an individual. Caroline earned the appropriate nickname “Creative Girl” and a few month into the year began writing messages to Mr. Webster on her spelling tests: “Have a great weekend, Mr. Webster!” He would respond, “You too, Creative Girl!” or wish her luck on her gymnastics meet if she happened to mention that she had one that weekend. I always enjoyed reading their messages to each other when she brought the tests home.
At the end of the year, she was accidentally overlooked for an award and Mr. Webster felt terrible about it and apologized sincerely. It was fine and we told him that-she was happy to get her certificate with her report card; it was all good.
A couple of weeks later, we were at the graduation open house of a neighbor, who mentioned to us how much she had loved having Mr. Webster and that she had invited him to her open house-she was hoping that he would come. Soon after, Mr. Webster arrived, and had brought with him a gift bag for Caroline, filled with art supplies and a card with a very nice note, apologizing again and telling her what a “super student and super kid” that she was. That action sums up precisely the kind of teacher that Mr. Webster was: there was no need for him to do any more than he had already done, but he went above and beyond, as usual.
My husband, Greg, and Mr. Webster enjoyed sitting and talking by the pool that afternoon and Greg always looked forward to attending school functions so that they could chat again.
Mr. Webster will be missed by so many people, including our family. We are so blessed to have had him touch our lives and we will always remember him.
The Fisher Family: Greg, Lani, Caroline, Chris & Collin
REST ETERNAL GRANT HIM O LORD, AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM!
I met Gary when he first came to the Valpo Schools in 1974.
I remember because it was at the Central Elementary Gym. Several staff members had gathered for a pick-up basketball game. He and his pal John Hughes taught me what real Hoosier basketball is all about.
Twenty years later he came to Cooks Corners to teach fourth grade. He walked into my office with that famous ear-to-ear smile and a question,” Good morning, Mr. T. Is there anything I can do to help?” All of the words of praise written here are well deserved. Gary helped all of us by being a true model for caring, responsibility, and dependability.
Even the best of us make mistakes. I remember the time that three students were left in the computer lab when the bus left for a field trip. Mr. Webster forgot three of his students but he had the secretary call the students parents. For this he received the “Black Knight”, our staff award for messing up! Mr Webster often received the “Black Knight” and when we met to award it others would ask “What did Gary do this time”?
Gary always kept his problems to himself, seldom sharing that part of his life with others. I hope he knew how much he was admired by so many of us.
I’ll see ya on the basketball court in Heaven Gary.
I met Gary in 1970. I was a sophmore and Gary a senior at MHS. He happened to be one of my gym assistants. A big guy that always seem to have his football jersey on. As you know most seniors do not communicate well with the underclass men. He was different than most. I wasn’t on the football team so we didn’t have any special bond. I still remember talking with him quite often during class and in the hallways. He was always smiling and joking around. Most of the fun directed at the gym teachers/coaches.
Since 1970 I ran into Gary one time. After reading all the accomplishments Gary achieved after high school it’s no surprise to me. I couldn’t think of a better field for him to go into other than education. I can understand why his students loved him.
When I look back at 44 years ago the impression he had on me as a 16 year old kid. We all lost a good one.
My sympathy to the entire Webster family. I will keep Gary and all of you in my prayers. Barry Blane
I really miss Mr. Webster. I loved it so much in musical pools when he would spray everyone and also the person that did not get in a pool which I think was called The Spray Of Doom:) it was so nice seeing him.
As a former teacher from Valparaiso, I am well aware of Gary’s impact that he had on so many. Teaching our students was his life ~ his passion…and it was evident each and every day. I am proud to say that I knew Gary Webster.
I was always so impressed with his following of his students in their activities. I KNOW this meant so much to each and every one of those students…
Both Gary and I are from Merrillville and share many friends…we are ALL deeply saddened and are praying for his family.
Blessings to the Webster family circle…
Mr. Webster is one of those teachers that sticks with you- his booming voice and smile seared into your memory. As many others have mentioned, it was the lessons he gave outside of the classroom that made him a truly exceptional teacher. He created a space for compassion, enthusiasm, fairness, and gave every student undivided attention when they needed it most. He braved cold mornings to welcome students into Cooks, worked all day, and still had enough energy and patience to oversee countless games in after school sports as well as some long talent show rehearsals. I will never forget the way he knew every students name & when he asked you how you were doing, you knew that he meant it- it’s the little things that go a long way. Sending condolences and peace to the Webster family and feeling blessed to have known such a wonderful person. Sleep soundly, Mr. Webster.
Briana Petty, 23yrs.
Janet Bohney, sister
This is by far the hardest thing I have ever written. How can you write an accurate tribute to someone like Gary Webster?
Thursday, October 24. 2014, I lost a brother, a best friend, a confidante, and a wonderful third grandparent to my grandchildren. Much greater than my loss, however, is the world lost a kind, gentle, compassionate, creative, understanding, intelligent professional teacher and mentor. Gary loved teaching, but Gary was so much more. He was a mentor, and a friend to many, many people., myself included.
Gary loved music, golf, sports (the Bears), reading, writing, useful discussion, family, and most of all kids. Kids were his passion. He spent countless hours making learning fun and exciting. He taught not only curriculum, he brought out potential. He saw only the way kids could be, not how they were. He addressed every child where they were and took them beyond. He truly was their HERO.
Gary Webster went home to Heaven on Friday, October 24, but his influence will go on forever in the seeds he planted in our children. His impact on the future can’t even be measured.
Rest my dear friend and brother. You’ve earned it. I love you. Janet
We are so sorry that Gary is no longer with us. We didn’t know Gary very well, but did have a weekend with him this summer at Bob and Janet’s lake home which was great.
I was saddened to hear this news. Mr. Webster was such a kind man and a fun teacher. He made learning fun at Hayes Leonard. My heartfelt sympathy to your family.
Mr. Webster was the best teacher on Earth! The first time I saw Mr. Webster, I knew there was something special. I could tell by seeing the twinkle in his eyes. In second grade he told me he was retiring, I took it pretty hard. Soon after that he announced that he wasn’t retiring, I almost leaped with joy! Now I just had to make it to fourth grade.
The first day I walked into his classroom, I could tell it would be a great year. I had a lot of friends and the best teacher of a lifetime. One field trip I’ll never forget was when Mr. Webster took us to Camp Tecumseh. (A.K.A. best class trip EVER!!) Also in fourth grade going to after school sports was awesome. Mr. Webster would play the best songs while you bowled with your friends.
Mr. Webster, I can’t thank you enough for caring about and believing in me. You told me you would come to my first game when I played middle school basketball. Although you won’t be in the stands, you’ll always be in my heart. I will also write your name on my shoes, so you’ll still be with me.
I love you and will never forget you,
I am a former student at Cooks Corners. I remember when I was in kindergarten and the first thing I remember saying to myself when I saw Mr. Webster was this guy seems pretty scary, My sisters would always try and tell me scary stories so that I would be scared of him when I reached the fourth grade. As I started moving up grades I realized that he wasn’t as scary as everyone had made him out to be. I remember the first day of fourth grade he gave me a high five, and everyday afterward he gave me a high five. He cared so much about his students. I remember one day after “after school sports” It was easily colder than 0 degrees outside and my dad was late to pick me up, I was the last one there. But Mr. Webster stayed outside in the cold with me the whole time until my dad had gotten there. The best memory I had with Mr. Webster was when our baseball team was undefeated in the fourth grade and it was our last game before our league tournament and Mr. Webster had came to watch. We lost that game, The only game we had lost all season, ha-ha. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wouldn’t of met him, He made a positive influence on my life and every other student he taught. R.I.P Mr. Webster, you will be missed.
Sincerely, Austin Balcerak
I’m 41 years old and had Mr. Webster as a teacher in 6th grade while attending Hayes Leonard. I recall always wanting to have him as a teacher and how important it was to me that he liked me and that he thought I was a good kid.
In addition to learning from Mr. Webster in the class room and the game of life, he also helped teach me the game of basketball. There are many fond memories of playing “open gym” with him and others before and after school. I always tried but never able to block his shot.
While attending as a kid and later playing in VHS Jr. Varsity and Varsity basketball games, there was always a certain constant comfort in looking up towards the same area of the balcony and seeing Mr. Webster either sitting by himself or with students gathered around him. I miss that…
I’m very happy that my Dad and Mr. Webster became friends through the years and cherish the afternoon I was able to “just hang out” with them and others. My Dad let me know yesterday that Mr. Webster would ask about me each time they played golf together.
I hope he thought I turned out ok…
I pray he knew how much I respected him…
One thing is for sure, I could not have had a better teacher or role model.
Thank you for everything Mr. Webster!
With truly sincere emotion,
I attended Hayes- Leonard from 1983-1989. Mr. Webster was already a very friendly and familiar teacher to me when I started kindergarten. I had two older sisters at Hayes, so he already knew my name before I was a student.
He was the best teacher!!! He was fun, interesting, and a joy to be with. He was always outside with us at recess playing basketball. Field trips and Camp Tecumseh hold so many special memories. He taught us so many songs, the variety shows were the best. He was such a blessing to my life and I’m so grateful I was able to be in his class.
I only had Mr. Webster for half a year, but he changed my life. I came from Southern California where I had few friends, and even less self worth. He made me feel like I meant something. Because of him, I learned to love school, and what it was like to be in an environment where bullying is under no circumstances tolerated. I would not be who I am now, a junior with a 4.0 and plans, without his influence in my life. I know he has been recieved with open arms because of his open heart.
In the late 70s growing up at Hayes Leonard, Gary Webster was the gentle giant of the hallways. Quiet, but confident, and always listening he was one of our finest teachers. Hayes grads can remember a kind and realistic educator, a listen before you speak role model, and a great basketball coach and sports enthusiast. He got up early nearly every morning to run full court with our crew, and taught some pretty good hoopsters in the day including Anselm, Jones and many more through the years. Gary will be missed greatly throughout Valpo as he taught hundreds of kids along the way like me how to be prepared for the day and how to live a good life. Prayers and condolences to his family!
My condolence to all Gary’s family and friends. I had the privilege of playing with Gary on the Merrillville HS football team. He always gave everything he had on the field and the definition of the word “Teammate” was: Gary Webster. When I read the remarks of all the hearts and lives that he touched, I was not surprised. God put him on this earth for a reason and Gary succeeded. His legacy will last for generations and we are all better for knowing him. God Bless.
Our son, John, become a huge fan of Mr. Webster shortly after he started kindergarten. Mr. Webster’s warmth, humor, and tolerance of John’s bad jokes quickly made him a bright spot in John’s day. As everyone has articulated so beautifully,
Mr. Webster touched the lives of everyone at Cooks Corners including our son’s.
I remember when Herb and John came home from Camp Tecumseh. While on a hike the night before, the group had stopped and lied on the ground. Mr. Webster talked about the constellations and the stars. He joyfully answered the kids’ questions. This went on for about a half hour. It was a beautiful experience neither of my boys will ever forget.
The summer after Johns’s 4th grade year, we went to Disney World for the first time. When we stopped by the gift shop, John only wanted one thing- a statue shaped like an Academy Award that said “World’s Best Teacher”. We were amazed. At the same time, it simply reinforced how much Mr. Webster meant to John. We had the statue sent back to our room, and John packed it very carefully for the return trip home. He couldn’t wait to give it Mr. Webster when he returned to school in the fall.
Thank you, Mr. Webster. for touching the lives of your students, including Big John’s, with your unconditional love and warmth. Thank you, God, for Blessing us with Mr. Webster.
Our prayers go out to his family as well as the wonderful staff at Cooks Corners.
Herb and Tammy Hofer
I just turned 33, and Mr. Webster was my fifth grade teacher at Hayes Leonard in the early 90s. Like other former students, I would find myself thinking about Mr. Webster in my grown up days. My parents live in the same neighborhood as Mr. Webster, so I would occasionally see him through the years enjoying a walk through the neighborhood when I would be home visiting. I am saddened to learn I won’t be seeing him on walks any longer.
Mr. Webster made the school year fun with great activities (morning basketball where he gave short kids like myself a chance to shoot the ball), field trips (who can forget Camp Tecumseh complete with ghost stories told by Mr. Webster), and he was one of few teachers in my entire career as a student who made social studies/history exciting!
Another former student already commented on the page-long, customized messages he would write in the kids’ yearbooks. Wow, how much time it must have taken him to do that shows how much he cared for his students! My yearbook lives at my parent’s house, but as I sit in my apartment in Chicago writing this message, I can clearly visualize the yearbook message he left for me…written so neatly in all caps, a few tiny pics included, recalling many great memories from the school year.
Any kid who had Mr. Webster as a teacher was truly blessed. He will be greatly missed! Thanks for the memories, Mr. Webster!
Mr. Webster was truly an educator that went beyond the classroom, My daughter was fortunate to have him as a teacher, but he was so much more. She is mentally challenged and immediately took to him and his caring for years before he became her classroom teacher. To know he knew every child’s name at school, made sure that they all got off the bus safely, attended all field trips, taught them intramural sports, prepared them to be young adults, and in my daughter’s case – helped everyone realize they were all special and all belonged. He will be greatly missed everywhere, just like I know he was missed during his short retirement.
Students don’t care how much a teacher knows, until they know how much that teacher cares. Gary Webster’s students, and all of the students in the school, knew that he cared about them. They knew that he was continually trying to bring out the best in each of them. In the years that I was involved with Cooks Corners through my kids and the PTA, 2003-2009, it didn’t take long to figure out how special this man was.
He stood out in front of the school every morning greeting the kids, and every afternoon sending them home safely on the buses or waiting with them for their rides. He made Camp Tecumseh a special experience for the fourth graders year after year. He encouraged kids to be involved in the annual variety show and spent hours after school for rehearsals with Mrs Holland. They also provided after school sports where everyone was included and where character and sportsmanship was more important than ability.. He made Field Day extra special for the fifth graders with the musical pools and hose spray. He posted events and encouragement faithfully on the sign in all kinds of weather. Amazingly he followed his students through their middle and high school sports, and attended as many as he could.
The most touching thing for me was the way that he treated the disabled and special education students. He made it an honor for students to be chosen to help those kids get ready for recess or to sit with them at lunch. He sat in the lunch room with these kids everyday and went out to recess with them. His soft heart for these kids and the dignity that he gave them was extremely touching.
My family feels blessed to have known him and I am extremely thankful for his positive influence on my kids and especially my boys, John Nowosad and Sam Nowosad.
Mr. Webster your humble, giving spirit now lives on in the hearts of many. We are eternally grateful for what you taught us and gave to our community. Now may you rest in heavenly peace.
A correction to an earlier e-mail – I apparently didn’t meet Gary my first year of teaching since he wasn’t teaching yet! I must have met him when my kids started at Hayes-Leonard and/or when I substitute taught! The world is brighter from Gary having been in it! Cling tight to precious memories!
I didn’t have Mr. Webster as my fourth grade teacher, but I might as well have. He and Mrs. Stefanski were equal teachers for me and I went back many times to see them and I also saw them both at every orchestra recruitment concert at the high school with their group of kids from their respective schools and they never forgot me, and I never forgot them. Mr. Webster was by far one of my all time favorite teachers and I will never, ever forget the time that we all gathered in his classroom and watched The Wizard of Oz and ate Oreos. Rest In Peace, Mr. Webster. Love, Tina.
Reading all these posts about my brother, makes me realize that I had a truly exceptional brother and didn’t quite realize how exceptional he was. To me, Gary was my grumpy older brother; always irritated with me for talking too much, asking too many questions (Why do your questions always come in threes, Nancy? Lol) , and just wanting to watch TV, when I just wanted to talk and ask him questions . Haha.
I can tell you, though, that some of my best memories are those when I was with my brothers, with them making me laugh till my stomach hurt, cry because I’m laughing so hard, and just not wantimg the time to end.
I loved when I would come home for holidays, and my brothers would take me out for breakfast. Just me, no wives, no kids, just me with my brothers. We would sit and have so much fun, mostly at my expense. : )
When I read the blog posts about my brother, Gary, I realize that he had an alter ego at school. He was the Rockstar at school. It amazes me to see how many things he did for kids. He never had kids of his own, but every kid at school or in our family became “his kid” .
Rest in peace, big brother.
Your irritating little sister
Gary epitomized what a Valpo teacher is all about. He aways had his current and past students as his top priority. He was a humble, professional and gentle educator. Gary and I often sat together at soccer games during my days as VHS Principal. We loved the victories and didnt like the losses. We also commiserated about our beloved Chicago Bears. His passing is a major loss to the Valpo Schools. He will be remembered as an example to all as an exemplary educator and a person I highly respected.
I’m not sure what to say. Mr Webster was my teacher at Hayes Leonard in 1985-86. He helped nourish my love of singing, and introduced my to the great music of the 50s and 60s. It always amazed me that no matter where I ran into him over the last 25+ years, he remembered me. I believe he truly loved his students, and he will live on in all of us. Thank you for being a part of my life. You made a difference!
Saddened at Mr. Webster’s passing, it is so comforting and very significant to read the heartfelt messages from his many many students, families, and friends. He touched so many of us so significantly.
I knew and appreciated Gary when I taught at Cooks Corners, and then again as he was there at Cooks Corners to welcome our grandchildren Katie and Emily Golding with his special way of making each kid feel very special and cared for.
Bless you Gary Webster. We will never ever forget you!
Dear Webster Family
You do not know me. My name is Randy Fenters. I too lost someone to Cancer 10 years ago. I truly know your pain. My deepest sympathies go out to you. Sue (Swanson) Armstrong related to me how Gary use to come out every morning to get on the Bus and be singing Oh What a Beautiful Morning it is. I am a retired teacher from Lake Central. After reading the countless tributes, accolades, and joys expressed by such a multitude of friends, former students, present students, parents, and co workers. How truly blessed all were by having this very very special man touch their lives in so many ways. God speed to you Rock star. Heaven is now the place to showcase your myriad of talents.
What wonderful comments I have read. I really am not surprised at how Gary has impacted so many lives. He and his family are the best. My family has had the the good grace to know the Webster family for many many many years. All the way back to when the Webster brothers’ dad began the first Merrillville Pop Warner team……and what a great team it was !! Gary’s dad had a very significant impact on all the kids he coached so like father like son….. I must add sons. My heart aches for the family and all of us who have been touched by this wonderful gentleman.
My son Scott had Mr. Webster for fourth grade and my son Mark switched to his class for Science. I remember him as a kind, quiet man who was completely devoted to his teaching. The kids loved him! I remember volunteering at Cooks and noticing how he would call each child by their name….even the new kindergartners. He knew every child in that school and made everyone feel special. He will be truly missed. So glad we had the opportunity to experience his kindness.
Gary and I grew up in the same neighborhood, rode the same bus each day to school and graduated high school the same year. His smile is always what I remember to this day. As we were older and secured the right to sit in the back of the school bus, he charmed us with his photo-memory. Much later when we moved to Valparaiso, we were able to reconnect when he coached my 11-yr. old son’s baseball team. That son is now 30 and getting married today……it is one of the happiest days and also saddest days of my life. God speed, Gary. You will be sincerely missed.
Mr. Webster What a wonderful tribute your students have left for you. May they pass on your kindness and humor to those they meet. I know my 5 children will always remember you—-well done faithful teacher!!
While I am here attempting to do homework, I keep being brought back in time to fourth grade. I am currently a freshman in college, but I remember clear as day that fourth grade classroom. It was a blessing to have a teacher in fourth grade who expected greatness from us, but at the same time understood how young we all were. He answered all the “stupid” questions us elementary school students could think of, and through this instilled a passion for knowledge.
As I think back on all the wonderful things I learned from Mr. Webster, the main skill that stays with me today is not truly academic. Mr. Webster went above and beyond his calling as a teacher to one as a mentor. Whenever my classmates or I would say “like,” Mr. Webster would pause and look at us. We all knew why—“like” was not a word that could be used as a pause. I even have classmates in college who cannot say a whole sentence without the use of some filter word such as “like.” This might seem benign, but the lack of “like” in speech garners more respect. And, also, what fourth grade teacher would care about something like this? Mr. Webster is probably one of the few, if not only.
I have not seen Mr. Webster very recently. Even so, no matter where I am, I think of fourth grade and Cooks with fondness. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all the others who will greatly miss him. I wanted to share my memory so I could show even those who were less close to him still greatly benefited from knowing Mr. Webster. Seeing how many others have written stories and thoughts makes me really appreciate how fortunate I was to meet Mr. Webster.
I had Mr. Webster as a teacher in 6th grade at Hayes Leonard Elementary. He was one of the best teachers I ever had! I also had the pleasure of seeing him at Cooks Corners when my daughter attended there and of course he remembered me! He will be missed by many, RIP Mr. Webster.
Cami Kern – 27 years old
4th Grade Student of Mr. Websters
Thank you for being not only the best 4th grade teacher – but one of my favorite teachers of all time. You were so loved and I STILL remember how extremely excited I was when I went to Cooks Corners for school registration and found out I got to be in your class. You made learning fun – you made math easier for me (which was a task, I know haha)….Cooks Corners, the Valpo community and all your students will truly miss you.
Thank you for doing all the memories….
Cooks Corners Talent Show…you were our biggest fan and I know when the boys did their “Taking Care of Business” (Corey Crew, Mike Baron, etc) you just had a blast watching them airplay to some of your favorite rock and roll. You always told me to pursue my dream as a dancer and made sure to ask me how my shows and practices were going. Thank you for letting me perform a dance to “My Heart Will Go On” even though it was wayyyyy too long haha and for letting me take naps in the computer room when my Memorial Opera House rehearsals ran too late. Thanks for the oyster crackers for recess when Sarah, Cait and I were just too hungry to make it to lunch. We sure did think you were the best…and not only for the secret stash of snacks . I also remember when Frank Sinatra passed, and I was so upset. You let me play “Come Fly With Me” for the class of my Duets II cassette to let the class know who he was.
There are so many more stories, but I can tell you when my sisters and I visited Valpo, it was always a treat to say…”Guess who I ran into today, Mr. Webster!!”
You will be missed, and so many of us are reflecting on our favorite Mr.Webster stories today.
Safe travels to the angels.
Cami and the Kern Family
Words can’t describe how saddened I am by the news of his death. Some of the best memories I have of cooks has him in it (talent shows, the dunes, his class, etc). Mr. Webster was one of the most influential teachers at cooks corners. It didn’t matter if you had him as a teacher or not, he inspired people in many ways. It’s hard to lose such an amazing person who touched so many lives. I think it’s safe to say that his legacy will live on.
I was thinking about you just last week, was wondering how you had been, wondering if you were still teaching. I thought it would be a hoot to pop over to cooks and see if you were still there. Even though it has been 27 ish years since you had me in class, I know you’d still remember me and probably even give me a big bear hug (because I’m you’re favorite! Ha). Of course, I wasn’t really your favorite. We all were! At least, that is how you made all of your students feel, like we were special. You always had a smile or a joke for us if we felt down … And you embraced all of us for who we were. That means a lot to a 10 year old who is not quite sure of themselves.
I will never forget bus trips and your sing a longs (yo momma don’t wear no socks!) and how you wrote a full page of memories in my yearbook when I left school. Words cannot accurately describe the sadness that I have that I didn’t see you one more time …. So I could tell you what I always told you when I would randomly see you over the years … You’re still the best teacher ever.
Rest in peace, Mr. Webster. You will be so very missed. But never forgotten.
Mr. Webster made 4th grade the best year I ever had in elementary school. He made sure my desk was right by his desk all year. He (along with Mrs. Krysa) helped me get through tears and made everything ok for me at school. He taught me to have confidence in myself and to keep trying. There are so many memories… I will always keep Mr. Webster in my heart.
I was in fourth grade at Cooks during 2004-2005 and Mr. Webster was not my teacher, but had him when we switched classes for health/science. One memory I have of him was during the first day of after school sports (something I and my peers were heavily anticipating prior to fourth grade). I dribbled the basketball and tried passing to a heavily guarded “strong player”. Mr. Webster stopped play and pointed at least 2 other players who were wide open but I didn’t consider passing to. Then he explained that at after school sports, we include everyone and don’t just pass it to our friends or the strong players. It was little lessons like these plus many others that have had lasting impact on myself and countless other students.
When I first found out that I had Mr. Webster as my teacher for fourth grade, I couldn’t have been happier. I have so many memories from being in his class and just from the school, even now as a junior in high school. I’ll never forget going to camp Tecumseh and after school sports every Tuesday and Thursday. Every time I would see you, you would always say “hi erin, how are you?” And you would ask me how the rest of my family was, even when I was in middle school and came back to visit. It was the same every time I saw you. You had such a big impact on my life and so many others and the way you interacted with all of us and tried to come to all of our sporting events and do whatever you could to come and support us was amazing . You will be greatly missed but never forgotten, rest in peace Mr. Webster.
One of my favorite memories of Mr. Webster was when he would bring the kids into Inman’s for their after-school bowling program. It didn’t take long after watching the staff and children to realize that they all loved that man very much and respected him. Everyone was so well behaved and polite.
The most awesome gesture was at the very end of the program, Mr. Webster would give our staff a tip for services rendered. He never had to do that as that was our job to provide a good time, but he did it anyhow.
It was a pleasure to have known him, even if it was in the most briefest of capacities.
As Mr. Webster had both of our boys when they were in 4th grade, we have many positive memories of him. He was always smiling and greeting the children in the mornings and was such a presence in the building. His spunk and sense of humor helped to motivate children as he worked to assure that all children were included in activities. He brought his students to meet my pre-service teacher students at the Porter County Museum several times. Mr. Webster will truly be missed! Ralph, Ruth, Evan and Zach Johnston
(cont’d) kickball, 5th grade graduation (our class song was “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick. We all sobbed together not knowing how we would get along without you in a new big school; and you shed a few tears as well, however probably tears of relief that summer had finally arrived.) We were neighbors for most of my life, and I always welcomed a wave passing you by each time you walked your daily walk.
Of all the thousands of steps you took in your life, none were more profound than those of which you imprinted on our hearts. Many life lessons taught by such a great man. You will forever be a part of our lives, and we will continue to carry your legacy within us. God bless you and your loved ones always.
The very first educator I had who made a super profound impact on my life, and the lives of my peers. It was Mr. Webster who was finally able to crack the shell of that shy little girl in the 5th grade and teach her to have a little fun with learning. I’ll never forget – Camp Tecumpseh, playground basketball tournaments (you were *almost* like Mike. No really, you were
I had the pleasure of working with Gary (aka Gare Bear, G Dubs…) for the past seven years, and words cannot describe how influential he has been to my life. He was there for all of us “new” teachers and would do anything and everything for our staff, our students, and our community. It was always difficult teaching fifth grade after students had THE One and Only Rockstar Teacher, Mr. Webster. I realized very quickly that it was impossible to do all that he managed to do, although it has always and will always be a goal of mine to touch lives in the way that he so effortlessly did.
Cooks Corners will never be the same, and it is going to be incredibly difficult to see so many hurting children who love Gary as much as we all do. It will also be hard to refrain from saying, “just go ask Mr. Webster” when I don’t know an answer to something a student asks me. :/
I am thankful for such wonderful memories…and am at peace knowing that Mr. Webster will be touching many more lives up in heaven. (Probably while listening to “Don’t Stop Believinnnn'” 🙂
So sad to hear about such a great teacher. Even though my son, Zach (Cooks Corners class of 2004), was not in his class, he always talked about what a “cool” teacher he was to all the students. During my time at Cooks Corners I was on various committees, and Mr. Webster was always friendly and helpful to all the parents. He will be missed.
I first met Gary in Pop Warner football. We went thru school together and graduated Merrillville class of 70. He was the center and a very good one. A very positive attitude. The success of our team reflected his leadership. He taught two of my grandkids and they thought he was the greatest. He touched so many and the world is a better place because of him.
Gary was a great man and role model for everyone in his life. I thank him for being a big part of my childrens and my life as an example of what we should strive to be. You will be missed!
Mr. Webster was the best teacher in the world. I will always have happy memories of him. I was a bus helper last year for his class and I remember the time he gave out this awesome licorice. I asked him everyday after that if I could have some of the licorice. So on the last day of school he gave me some. That was just one of the many memories that I have of him. He will be missed.
What a personality the man had he was absolutely positive & upbeat he has touched the lives of many and will truly be missed rest in peace .
The Poloncak Family
Mr.Webster was my 4th grade social studies teacher and he was the best teacher anyone could ever have its sad he left us but he will always be in our hearts. I would like to thank Mr.Webster for all the great memories that he gave me and every other kid that ever went to Cooks Corners and the laughs and how you loved to wear those funny looking ties and the times you would play catch with me even though I was terrible at it. It seems so unreal that at 4:45 am this happened to such a great person like he was but I guess god has other plans for him. Mr.Webster had a great character and a big heart and I hope he knows that I will always be thinking of him. We will never forget you Mr.Webster♥
To my Uncle, my Hero, my Friend. Thank you for all the good times, all your love, all you taught me in life. I promise I will pass those lessons to Matthew and Taylor. I love you always. I will see you again.
When my husband and I were finally able to move “home” after 13 years being away, we were excited. My kids, however, were not so much. My youngest, who can be very sensitive, was terribly nervous about a new school. We walked in to Cooks Corners, and I knew instantly that she would be fine in Mr Webster’s class. He immediately understood what he needed to do for her. He helped my kid be excited about all the new things in her life. He introduced her to everyone he could. He moved her desk Day one of school to sit by a new friend she made. He came to her basketball games on the weekends. He was truly amazing, and I could never thank him enough for being her favorite teacher. He truly made my daughter feel special when she needed it the most. He will be missed.
I was a student at Cooks Corners many years ago but I will always remember 4th grade as my favorite year there. Mr. Webster helped make Cooks Corners the type of school it is today. He was always smiling, and every student loved him. I was close with him because of after school sports. He also helped put on the talent show. I remember his grand finale act to John Cougar Mellencamp. I was extremely upset when I heard the news and want to offer my sincere condolences to Mr. Webster’s family and friends. He was a great man and will truly be missed.
I have known Mr. Webster for close to three decades. I didn’t get to see him often, but we would meet at fourth grade meetings at different locations around town. There are certain teachers who merely skim across the top of the water. They cover the material they are required to cover. They complain about kids or colleagues. They take their paychecks, and they go home. Mr. Webster did not do that. He dove all the way into the lake. You could tell just from being with him for a short time that he truly cared about his students as people. All the personal stories people shared about how he touched their lives have been beautiful to read. Gary was a beloved professional who gave his entire life to the kids at the schools where he taught. It was an honor to know him and to call him a friend and colleague. May he rest in eternal peace. He has certainly earned it!
In 1980 I was a frightened 6th grader. I was starting at a new school. I had gone to Parkview elementary since kindergarten and my family had moved across town. Plus I had this new “larger than life” male teacher. He was loud, slightly abrasive and an “in your face” kind of teacher. He motivated the heck out of me.
Mr. Gary Webster was a great teacher and really made learning fun. I remember more from his class than any other classes combined. I remember daily writing assignments, science, learning about animal types and the talent show. The first time I played the drums.
Mr. Webster was really into sports and I wasn’t very good at sports. He would play basketball with the kids at recess and before and after school. I felt a little left out at first. When he found out sports weren’t really my thing and that I was in to music, he let me practice drums in the music room during recess. I’ll never forget the day I was jamming in the music room and he lined the classes up outside the big steeps at Hayse Leonard. He had all the kids chant my name. I walked out to the steps and they all cheered! It was my first true “Rock Star” moment.
I’ll also never forget Dec 8, 1980. I was at school. We were doing our daily writing and I wrote a poem about John Lennon’s death. He read my poem out loud and praised it. However he could see it was a hard day for me. He talked to me about it and more importantly listen to me talk about it. Later he sent me home to give me a much needed break from that terrible day.
I heard from my uncle John that Gary made it to last years Beatles at the barn show. He was up in the loft dancing and singing along. My uncle John, who talks to everybody, introduced himself. He said Mr. Webster was full of pride, telling everyone he was my 6th grade teacher. He was proud of and followed my musical accomplishments. I wish I could have thanked him then for being so important in my life.
In a time when the powers that be have made teaching is too much about tests and ISTEP scores, its good to know there are teachers like him who give their students life experiences. I may not remember what my reading level was or what grade I got in math. But I have Mr. Webster to thank for my love of creative writing, my knowledge of animal types and the confidence he helped me find to walk on stage and express myself!
So Thank you Mr. Webster for helping this awkward 6th grader find himself. We all have limited time on this rock we are spinning on. All we can do is make the best of it, enjoy our time here with each other and inspire others to reach their full potential. I know Gary did this for me and thousands of others. I wish you peace my friend, my mentor and my teacher.
Getting off the bus every morning to Mr.Webster yelling my name with a huge smile on his face was probably my favorite memory with him. One of the littlest things that I look back on that mean the most to me. I had Mr. Webster when I was in fourth grade I am now in tenth and have yet to meet or be taught by someone who had such an amazing impact on my life like he did. He was an all around good hearted person who I’ll never forget, a person who I truly believe helped me to be the person I am today. I’m so grateful that I was able to have him as a teacher, but even more grateful to have had him as someone who was a real role model to me. Heaven defiently gained a wonderful angle today. Rip.
Hey Mr Webster –
It’s Valerie Morris…. You had me in 4th grade… Well now I’ve grown up and had my 16th birthday last month. I pass by our school everyday on the bus and sometimes I would see you outside with the kids and it made me miss that school and most importantly you. I kept remembering how I would take the tissue boxes from the recycling bins and make houses for my little penguin toys and how you’d comment on them. You’d offer up advice on how to make them more stable because everytime I tried to get them to stay up they’d fall over. You’d crack the best jokes when I wasn’t feeling happy. You’d make me smile, especially when Mrs. Holland was there……When I left Elementary School and went into Middle School I visited you on some occasions. I’d say hi, wave, and I’d be greeted back with your warm smile and your big bear hugs. I miss those so much…. I was always asked which teacher was my favorite and I’d always say it was you without hesitation. I wish you were there to see the shock on my teachers’ faces. They were all so priceless. Mr. Webster you weren’t just my teacher but my best friend. You will always be in my heart and I’ll miss you. I’ll see you someday. I promise.
I was only at Cooks Corners for 3 short years, but my childhood memories are full of Mr. Webster! What a bright soul…his face, in my memory, is always smiling. The influence he had at Cooks Corners will be forever remembered and talked about. Rest in peace, Mr. Webster. I’m sending prayers and well-wishes to his family, friends, and all those whose lives he inspired daily.
To the family of Gary Webster. Gary touched our lives in so many ways. He was Nick’s teacher and I continued to see him every morning when I delivered children to Cook’s Corners Elementary School. I grew up in Merrillville with Gary and we had many conversations about our old stomping grounds. Gary always had a smile and his many ties and hats made each day a memorable one. He never let a day pass when he aske dme about “Tkachy” , as he called Nick. He made such a positive impact on all the lives he touched. I do not think I have met a finer man than Gary. Please k now that he was loved by us and his memory will live in our hearts forever. God bless Gary and his family. It is such a loss to us all.
Srry I screwed first is said 9:30 accidentally pasted
Mr. Webster thank you for helping me get through elementary school you helped me through all my tough times my family and I will never forget you thanks.No. I will pick him up at 9:30. Thank you
I hadn’t seen Gary in recent years, but was kept up to date by Jeff. The tributes written in his honor say it all, quite a legacy for a very compassionate man! I am glad he Jeff, and Cory were able to visit New York recently. The pictures were great, a great time was had! He was even starting to resemble Jeff in later years, check out that pic, and I know he looked up to his older brother. He was a much better football player than Jeff though, won State back in the day I think (beat Cathedral).
Shelley and my condolences to family and friends, we lost a Region Brother!
I was privileged to have Mr. Webster as a teacher. It’s unquantifiable yet I try to imagine the number of lives he made better by having touched. The thought is awe inspiring. I hope that my children simply meet a person with his qualities. I dream they have his caliber of teacher. You will never be forgotten.
Dear, dear Mr. Webster. What a wonderful and truly inspiring individual. Both my children were Cooks Corner kids and were so fortunate to have the Stefanski/Webster 4th grade team. Those years still stand as their favorite. Long after they moved to the middle and then high schools we would see him at cross-country meets, basketball games, the Grand March, etc. and Mr. Webster was always kidding around with them, checking in on how they were doing and what their plans were. They got such a kick out of his remembering them even after all that time. Just driving by Cooks and seeing him changing the letters on the sign was call for windows down and a “Hi Mr. Webster!” yell out the windows every time. And he would turn and grin and wave. For me he was and is the heart of Cooks Corner School and our community. He is everything that is right and good about small Indiana towns and he will be truly, truly missed. And for me he lives on in the lives of the 1000s of children he has helped, encouraged, and loved. Blessed are all of us who knew you Gary, blessed indeed.
Mr. Webster was a true inspiration to my life… He was always the person I looked forward to seeing at school in the morning. I will miss all of his high fives, and just hearing his voice, even when he was yelling at me. He helped shape me into the person I am today… I am going to miss him so much, but it’s nice to know inside that he is somewhere happier and is not suffering any longer. Most people would ask me why I am taking this so personal… But people don’t understand the relationship between Mr. Webster and his students. He was a big impact on all of us, and most kids don’t understand… But I can’t express how much he will be missed. RIP Mr. Webster. ❤️
I may not have had Mr. Webster as my teacher while at Hayes Leonard back in the late 80s (I am now 36 and graduated from VHS 1996), but he will forever be one of the most inspirational and cherished educators in my life. His infectious smile and love for his students made every one of us feel important and capable. I will never forget our bowling trips to Inman’s and him “helping” me get a few strikes. He was there by your side, he taught so many of us life lessons and not just the written curriculum. We can all see by the emotional outpouring of respect and gratitude on this page and on other social media sites just how much Mr. Webster impacted so many peoples’ lives. I am thankful he is at peace now and I pray for his family to find their peace too, hopefully with the help of all of these messages. I regret that I could not say thank you to him before he passed, but hope he can hear me now. Thank you Mr. Webster and may you rest in peace.
As I sit here trying to find the words to describe Gary Webster and the legacy he lived… I realized no words can truly encapsulate a man who touched so many lives. I look back and remember how much of an impact he had on my own life, and even my sister’s.
I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Webster is one of the main reasons I’m sitting here typing this comment at Butler University. Here’s an example of how far his influence went: Mr. Webster wasn’t my teacher. I had Jill Stefanski, who I adore to this day, and Mr. Webster was the other fourth grade teacher across the hall. There really didn’t have to be any connection at all between us. He wasn’t my teacher, and I wasn’t technically his student. But it didn’t matter that I wasn’t in his class. He still went out of his way to make me feel welcome and appreciated, that I had a purpose and place in my life. I truly believe that he instilled innate qualities in me that I carried to this day. Mr. Webster instilled within me confidence, perseverance, and courage, all traits which have helped me get to this point as I continue my college education.
More people who embody the characteristics of Gary Webster are needed in elementary schools across the nation. I know it sounds odd, and might be a stretch for some people, but I can firmly state that he helped me get to where I am today. It starts from the bottom, and grows as one matures.
And his grace didn’t stop once I moved on from elementary school. An image that will forever be ingrained in my mind is Mr. Webster’s distinct frame always changing the Cooks Corners sign in front of the building. When I would run by, I’d yell and say hello. He would turn, grin with the sparkle in his eyes, smile back, and return with, “Good to see you, Jordan!” It never got old. In addition, Mr. Webster always donated to VROOM, or Valpo Cross Country. I would send him the letter each year, and he never failed to send back a generous donation. It meant a lot to me in high school, and still does now.
There are certain memories that one can never forget about someone. A memory that defines that person. A memory that can last for years. A memory that makes you smile. The last note I’ll end on involves the musical pools, a fifth grade tradition on field day. Mr. Webster was always at the helm, enjoying his time with the kids, splashing them with the hose, and grinning from ear to ear. I’ll never forget that image for as long as a live. That grin embodied his dedication to his students, the love for his job, and his enjoyment of life. Mr. Webster went beyond the course curriculum. He instilled values in children that last a lifetime. What he passed onto me, I hope to pass on to others.
Gary Webster will be dearly missed.
The Valparaiso educational world lost a giant gem today … Gary Webster not only inspired students, he challenged his fellow teachers to bring their “A-game” to their students as well. He provided leadership to so many teacher committees … and helped to keep tough situations peaceful. When he came to the Middle School and XC events he always spent time checking in with the coaches on his former student’s progress. He had endless energy, compassion, and understanding for others. I know Gary Webster’s legacy will continue through all of us that were fortunate to have him in our lives. Peace to him and his family …always. Ann Davies
Heartbroken and thankful….. We were so blessed to have you teach JD last year. He loved you and we really appreciate everything you did for him. He’s a better boy for having known you. You will be missed. We thank God that he put you in our lives and we are heartbroken that you will no longer be able to impact young boys, girls and their families. Rest in Peace Mr. Webster. We love you.
Only a couple of days ago I saw Mr. Webster at a Valplayso building. It had been years since I had spoken to him but he remembered me right away. One of my favorite things about Cooks Corners was seeing him every where even after I had left. Mr. Webster was such a big part of the community he was always so dedicated to ‘his kids’. He knew all of the kids who passed through his school and would come see them in later years. I can remember seeing him at almost all of my cross country meets and my brother’s basketball games. He will be missed by all and will always have a place in my heart.
Other than my immediate family, I cannot think of a person who was more influential in my life. Mr. Webster was a kind-hearted and fun-loving person and I am so grateful to have been in his 5th grade class at Hayes-Leonard. Not only did he instill a love for learning within me, but he also led me to try to be a joy in others’ lives as well. I am currently a seventh grade teacher and I frequently think of Mr. Webster and how he would have handled the various situations that I experience in my own classroom. I will continue to remember him fondly and will keep his family and close friends in my thoughts and prayers.
As a fellow teacher, Gary was someone I admired and valued as an example of what to strive for in my career. He not only academically prepared his students for the future, but most importantly, he showed his students unconditional love and caring. I was not fortunate enough to have him as a teacher, but as I entered junior high at BF, I became well aware of the impact he had on his former students, as he continued strong relationships with my new jr high friends who were former students. Showing up for their different school activities to support them was regular thing for Gary. I watched the strong relationships with their families as well- the Petcus, Mueller/Gauders, Massas…and many more. It was an amazing thing. As I became a friend and colleague of Gary, I continued to be impressed with his dedication to our profession. Even as it became more and more difficult for him physically, he never failed to be there for his fellow teachers and his kids. There will be a huge void in the hearts of the many people who were impacted by this truly gifted educator and friend. Thanks for being such an ideal example of what education should be all about Gary! You will be missed.
I only heard that Mr Webster was sick two days ago. I had hoped to get a message to him, so that he could read it in time. He was my 5th grade teacher at Hayes-Leonard in ’88-’89. That year was probably the most fun school year I ever had. It’s been fun to read the comments of my classmats from that year who reminded me of the “B-Dub” nickname we gave him among other things. I remember singing along to the “oldies” like “Doo Wah Diddy” with him and doing a ’60s show in the Hayes-Leonard gym. I see from the other comments he carried that on at Cooks Corners with the variety shows. He loved music and dancing and he was also a very talented teacher. I loved his history lectures. You made so many kids lives better. Thank you, Mr Webster. May you rest in peace. -Mary
It’s been 30 years since I was in the 6th grade at Hayes Leonard but I still hear songs on the radio and immediately think of Mr. Webster and how much fun he was! He had an impact on so many kids!
I remember your early years at Hayes- what fun we had with stacks of paperbacks, trying to out read our voracious 5th/6th grade readers. Teaching was fun (many practical jokes) and you were part of the Hayes Team that made that school so strong. You came early and stayed late. Kids had your time in morning gym, at recess, during lunch and in the classroom. At recess you were active; taping your glasses together for the nth time, tucking in your shirt, grabbing a quick drink at the water fountain, and crossing the classroom door to teach. You encouraged all children and let them know they were valued. It was a privilege to know and work with you. Report card remarks:
Gary was a true legacy to Cooks Corners & the entire community of Valparaiso. I have had the priviledge of working with him for 9 years at Cooks and the pleasure of working with him side by side for the last year & a half as his assistant when he transitioned down to first grade. He treated me like gold. There’s not an adult or student that he wouldn’t bend over backwards for. Through the years, at every sporting event, you would see him in the stands cheering for his former students. He was there to support you in anyway he could. His dedication and love for teaching was apparent in his daily interaction with the kids. My heart breaks at such a HUGE loss but glad he is no longer suffering or in pain. He fought this demon so diligently and was so optimistic. He is a very special man! I love you & will miss you, Gary! Until we meet again!
Thank you for stepping in my 5th grade year and coaching our traveling baseball team, the Pioneers 35 years ago. Your were a great coach and a wonderful person who taught us not only the game of baseball but how to win and lose with class. Thank goodness we didn’t lose often as you led us to win the championship. You were a great influence on me and were one of the reason I went into education. I always looked forward to seeing you around town and seeing how you were doing. Thank you for being such a positive influence on so many kids.
The Webster family, friends, and the entire Valpo community is in our prayers. Our family didn’t attend Cooks, but we know many whose lives were touched by this wonderful soul and join you in sympathy, and yet celebration as Mr. Webster has been called home. God Bless.
Mr. Webster was my 4th grade teacher in 1995-1996. He had a profound impact on me. He helped bring me out of my shell and always had a joke ready to make us laugh. I cherish the memories I made with him as my teacher. So many wonderful memories!! I cannot begin to imagine the amount of students he impacted positively in his time as a teacher. I feel so lucky to have had him. To his family and friends, you have my thoughts and prayers.
Mr.Webester is the best teacher in the world. It feels like yesterday he went to my baseball tourment that met the world to me. He always knew what to say when ever you were feeling bad. Anything you ask him about sports, movies,and school he will look up the answer in a heart beat. He will be missed.
Remembering all the good times we had at Hayes Leonard. You touched so many lives! You will be greatly missed.
So so saddened by the passing of Mr. Webster. He truly was the best teacher and mentor to have the privilege of coming in contact with, and I am sure many will agree. I remember in fourth grade being so upset when I found out I didn’t have him as a teacher that year, as my older sister had. Despite that, he treated me and encouraged me as though I was one of his students. He was always ready with a joke and a smile, and always willing to lend a hand. He was so encouraging to all and never judged anyone. He had such a great sense of humor, huge heart, and was loved by all. Through it all he was always humble. The Valpo community, and the world, lost a great man today. Rest in peace, Mr. Webster!
Mr. Webster is a great person that as been in my life and has taught me so much. He is the best teacher you could ever ask for and I will always remember him as a great teacher with a great heart. I had him has a forth grade teacher in 2011 and I was so excited when I found out he was going to be my teacher. That year was the best school year from camp Tecumseh and challenge Ed and having Mr. Webster as my teacher. He will forever be a reason for why I am who I am today. I was so lucky to have him as a teacher,he will be truly missed.
Words cannot begin to explain how much of an impact you’ve made on each and every one of your students. You helped me break out of my shell as an awkward, self conscious fourth grader into a fourth grader who started to believe in himself and have self confidence in everything I did. Whether it was running the mile along side us, going to our senior night sporting events, showing up at the Grand March for our senior prom, or coming to our grad parties, your continued support throughout our career in the Valparaiso School system was truly amazing. We may have lost you physically, but your legacy will live on forever. Heaven gained a special angel today, and I know you’ll be watching over me and the rest of the Cooks Corners family.
I’m a former student of Mr. Webster. I can’t believe how many years it’s been already. I was in his 4th grade class at Cooks Corner probably 15 years ago. I remember him teaching a few classes on movie special effects and I’ve been fascinated by movie effects since then. He showed clips from “Jason and the Argonauts” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and I became obsessed with finding and watching these movies. I know that’s a random story, but it was one of those things that just really stuck with me from Cooks. That and his after school sports programs. He was a great man and a wonderful influence on me and all other students there. He will be greatly missed.
Mr. Webster you will always be with in our hearts no matter what and thank you so much for being there for us. Even if you can’t read this I just want you to know that we all loved you! Thank you for all you have done for us, and you have made such a difference on Cooks Corners! Thank You!
– Mira Carlson
Heaven has gained yet another angel. Rest in peace Mr. Webster, I hope you realize what a wonderful impact you had on so many lives. I am so proud to say that Kevin, Erin & Olivia all had the chance to know you. I always remember Kevin and Erin wanted you for a teacher because you never gave homework, Olivia ended up being the only one to have you full time- of course the kid that loved homework! The 4th grade team at Cooks was unbeatable! You reminded me of my grade school principal, you knew every kids name from K-5 and even after they moved on you still remembered their names. All the work you did with putting on the variety show each year- the kids LOVED it. Thank you for taking so much time to get to know all the kids, being such a positive influence and being the constant friendly face at Cooks Corner! God Bless you and may you rest in peace.- You will be greatly missed.
My heart is full of fond memories of Mr. Webster. My fifth grade year at Hayes was a magical time thanks to you.You knew we were all smart in different ways and brought out the best in us. We were more than just your students or part of a class. We were part of a family. I consider myself one of your “kids”. I’m sure all of us who had you will always be one of “Mr.Webster’s kids!” I’m so proud and greatful to be part of this special group. With love, Katie
With three kids that went through Cooks we knew Mr. Webster well. It didn’t take long after meeting him to see the dedication that he had for the kids . He will truely be missed. We feel very blessed to have known him , and to have had him part of our kids lives. He was and will always be a hero. We’ll miss you Mr. Webster. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. God bless!
Mr. Webster u brought so many smile’s to so many young students in Valpo. I’m very honored to have had
u as a teacher and knowing u. Its like yesterday I was still in ur class. U always had our class laughing all the times. Was very happy to see u about 5 years ago at the Boys and Girls Club when I was refing basketball and got to sit down and talk for a few. U are going to be sadly miss!!!
As a former Cook’s parents, with both Nicholas and Gia attending Cook’s corner, we are very sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful man who cared for students and made that a priority. Mr Webster was one of the few teachers/administrators willing to actually speak out and help Nicholas with his struggles and getting the help he needed. A special man with a special mission of helping children succeed. We will always remember him for his generosity with his time and expertise at school, after school, on field trips at Camp Tecumsah, and at school events. God Bless.
Gary was teaching at Hayes before I arrived. He has been paid the greatest tributes because he has touched the future. I’d like people to remember his great sense of humor…I remember a teachers’ meeting at Hayes when Gary and John came in just a tad late. Mr. Martin would tap his watch to let you know that you were not on time. Gary and John had powdered their hair with flour from the school kitchen and had cut out huge gray construction mustaches and taped them on. I’m not sure how Mr. Martin was able to proceed.
Mr. Webster was an amazing influence to my four children, for the 10 plus years we attended Cooks Corners . He was the constant there. He amazed me by knowing everyone in that schools name. After my children had passed through Cooks we were fortunate enough to have his help with my son’s eagle project. The bench out in front of the school and surrounding the playground was Gary’s idea. I saw a picture after we were done installing them the next fall with Gary sitting on the bench. It made me smile. Too many stories, so many wonderful memories of a one in a million kind of person. He dedicated his life to our children and I am blessed to have known him. Gary’s smile will forever be in our family’s memory. What an impression you left on earth. We will miss you!
Ron, Diane, Abby, Danny, Allie, & Amy DeTorrice
I first met Mr. Webster as a tomboy/girl wanting to play baseball in a town that didn’t have that opportunity for girls. So I had to play in the BOYS instructional baseball league at Glenrose Park. There were only 2 of us girls, but Mr. Webster didn’t treat us any differently and encouraged us to learn, grow, and be our best. He not only taught my brothers and myself how to play baseball, but to always be good sports. Many years later, I became a Valpo school teacher alongside Mr. Webster. He encouraged me to call him Gary, but I told him that I just couldn’t bring myself to do that! Over the years I have seen him at teacher meetings, sporting events, and the grocery store – and he always stopped to ask me how I am doing and to talk. He was a special man and he will be greatly missed!
Gary was a wonderful, caring, and well-loved teacher. We knew him because our 3 children attended Hayes-Leonard and because he and his brother attended the same high school as my husband and me. He made it a point to get to know ALL the children at the school. He greeted them at the doorway on the first day of school and by the end of the week, he knew every new kindergartener’s and every new student’s name. They looked forward to the possibility of being in his 5th grade class…an eternity for young children, but worth the weight. He co-ordinated the kinder pal program for 5th graders and kindergarteners. He brought fun to learning for both grade levels. And he brought excitement about learning for all his students. He most certainly was a legacy. He will be missed.
sent via text to Gary’s phone on 10-23-14.
I know you cannot read this and I don’t know if you could hear it if someone else read it to you, but I need to tell you a few things. Your impact on my life and thousands of others was nothing short of wonderful. There are many people who could live 100 lives and never spread the love and true compassion for others like you did in yours. Thank you for the time all of us shared with you. I can only hope that I can become half the person you have always been. I love you, Uncle Gary. Be in peace.
Mr Webster has been a legend in our family…the standard to which all teachers have always been compared…and to which no one has ever come close. Here Here to my fabulous 6th grade teacher at Hayes-Leonard. We celebrate the impact you have made on so many of us. There are not enough people with the gift to guide children through the delicate early teen years…but scrappy morning basketball, Saturday Night Fever line dancing for inside recess, WWII planes hanging from the ceiling, and nicknames for all was a wonderful way to do it. I thank you for your willingness to be on our level…I am sure there is a hoop up there waiting for you!
You were hard to miss in the hallways as I passed through the grades at Hayes-Leonard. The last thing I ever wanted was your finger pointing at me when lights went out in the lunchroom. I remember when our paths first crossed. I was a quiet 5th grader standing in the lunch line, when my sister pointed me out to you. And it seemed like you looked for me in that line every day that followed, to say something trying to make me smile. It took a while before I would talk to you, to trust you with a smile—you waited for me. You touched the lives of so many students, created an atmosphere where we knew we belonged. I remember: basketball before school, bringing you jars of homemade cream cheese frosting, and your rendition of the Charlie Daniels Band “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. But most of all, I remember that you waited and walked through doors with me that I wasn’t brave enough to walk through on my own. Your life is a blessing that will continue to shine on others as we share what you have instilled in us.
Love and prayers,
Debbie (Benjamin) Biggs, Hayes-Leonard
Dear Mr. Webster,
I don’t think any other teacher could have touched my life in such a positive way in which you have. Even though I am now a sophomore in college, your memory lives with me and with all of us. I will always remember you coming into my second grade class at cooks corners and playing music to get us excited for learning; playing catch with a softball with me and Maddy Montgomery; and my obsession with apples started when you let us eat them in your class. I remember science becoming my favorite subject because of you and now I am pursuing a degree in kinesiology and exercise science here at IU because of your influence. I cannot begin to thank you for your time and commitment to students and to your teaching and to personally getting to know everyone. You will be missed from this world but will live on in memory and in our hearts forever. I’ll be seeing you at a later date when I have grown old and told my children and their children about you and how you have impacted such a community in the way you have. May God bless you and your family.
Rest in peace, Mr. Webster.
I will always remember Mr. Webster greeting batches of children as the busses rolled in- rain or shine, on warm and cold days. Long after my children had grown up and on-I would still see him from time to time as I drove down Campbell Street, taking care of kids and starting their days off with a hearty good morning. Sometimes, ‘little things’ are quite big in the lives of others, and for that he will be missed.
Our hearts are very sadden by the news that Mr. Webster has gone to Heaven. There aren’t enough eloquent words to describe the kind of man and teacher he was & how many lives he changed because he simply cared. We rejoice that he is at peace now but pray for comfort for his family, friends & all the many many students that will miss him terrible. The world has lost an amazing Man.
I’m beyond grateful to have had such an amazing man in my life . I will never forget the countless memories and I will cherish them forever. I love you with my whole heart, and I adore you Mr.Webster. Heaven gained a beauitful angel this morning.
I first met Gary when I was a second year teacher at Fieler Elementary School in Merrillville. He was a star student and quiet leader in a class of 40 students. I knew he was destined to be a success! Little did I know that he would appear in Valpo looking for his first teaching position. I was thrilled to hire him and knew he would be a positive a positive influence on students at Hayes-Leonard School. He did not disappoint. Not only was he a positive influence in the classroom but to many athletes who benefited from his love of sports. My own children still talk about Mr. Webster’s caring and the impact he had on them. I know he went on to make the the same impact on students at Cooks Corners. Gary will be sorely missed. Thank you for your contributions to the children of Valparaiso Community Schools.
Peace and comfort to Gary’s family as you mourn his passing and celebrate his life. Mr Webster was my 6th grade teacher at Hayes Leonard in 1976-77. It was a privilege to be in his classroom, as he taught us much about life, respect, and learning. He taught our whole class a synchronized basketball “routine” to Bennie & the Jets. It was a beautiful thing. He taught us the value of learning to work in groups- even groups that (gasp) weren’t made up of just our friends. I remember that green Gremlin he drove, we all thought it was sweet! I can say with complete honesty that I am a better person for having been his student.
Gary was such a rock at Cooks Corners Elementary. He was always willing to do anything and everything for the good of the students, staff, and school. What a wonderful legacy he left because of his positive impact in the lives of so many students and parents. I will be praying for Gary and all of those who mourn the loss of him in their lives. Gary, put on a funny hat and enjoy your future in heaven.
Joey and Anna are in ninth and seventh grades now, respectively, so it’s not been that long ago since they had Mr. Webster. He was tireless — he was Cooks Corners. At the bus line in his never-ending supply of holiday ties, running afterschool sports, at PTA meetings, cheering for math and spell bowl, running the variety show and grooving to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” changing that sign out front on the coldest of weekend mornings. From the French fort assignment to the field trips to the dunes, learning was fun with him, not work, and he instilled a lifelong appreciation of that in his students. He was stability in times of turnover or tragedy at Cooks because he was always, always there for the students, the staff and the parents. If you never sang “Wiki, Wiki Wamba” with Gary on a bus full of fourth graders on their way to Camp Tecumseh, you missed out. And we will forever miss him.
Mr. Webster, I’m not sure what the years were, but they were in the 80’s at Hayes Leonard. I was a shy, somewhat neurotic kid, and you were the teacher I remember that kept us learning, but also having fun. You led us singing on bus field trips, taught us teamwork and basketball in morning gym, and taught us how to treat and respect each other. I am grown now with a happy family and a great career, and I give you a lot of credit for helping me to learn how to work with others. Occasionally, when I need a confidence boost, I remember the time in about fourth grade when I came in from recess after getting a little hurt in a football game, and you called me an animal, told me how great I was playing, and immediately restored my confidence. Best wishes to you and your family, and thank you.
Hi Mr. Webster,
I was in your very first class at Hayes-Leonard (6th grade) not sure what year, possibly 1974, but you were without a doubt my favorite elementary teacher. I’m sure our class gave you a run for your money, but everyone loved you. I’m sorry that you are going through this. I just wanted you to know that after all these years, you were never forgotten . Thank you,
God bless you.
We will forever be grateful for how deeply and positively you have touched our lives.
Jeff, Lori, John, and Stephanie Clymer
Mr Webster you made a great impact in my life, the way you brought creativity into learning. You were my 5th grade teacher at Hayes-Leonard in 1993. Every time I watch Aladdin with my children I always think of our music programs with our kinder pals:) It was an honor having you as my teacher.
Thank you so much for everything you did for me throughout elementary school. Not many people can say they taught all 5 of the Klumpe children! Jonny always came home and talked to me about how awesome you were this year; he even called me when I was down at college when he found out you were his teacher. He loves you so much, just like all of us did. Not only were you the most influential teacher to ever touch my life, but you coming to every single one of our soccer games in high school meant so much to me, Andi Vio, and Emma. It takes a very special person to do what you did, and I could not imagine loving sports as much as I do now without you. Thank you for everything you did for me; from making me love Valparaiso and Cooks Corners, to helping me find some of my lifelong friends and passions in sports and academics. I’ll always remember dancing around the classroom to Aaron Cartor’s “I want candy”. You’re the absolute best.
So sad to hear about this wonderful man’s final moments on this earth as he prepares to cross over to the next life. Few things are constant in this life anymore, but Mr. Webster was a safe bet and a quiet, tireless, and gentle soul who devoted his life to the children who passed through the doors of Cooks Corner. For the past ten plus years I have counted on seeing his friendly face upon pulling up at Cooks Corner to drop off one of the boys.
Oftentimes, that was the highlight of my day just knowing that there was a dedicated individual there to greet us with a humble smile and a friendly wave. The lives of many, many children and their families were touched by him and it will simply not be the same without Mr. Webster’s consummate presence greeting us each morning. RIP, Mr. Webster, as you will be sorrowfully missed by this family and many others. We all know that there is a special place in heaven for you.
Kids leave such wonderful memories but one I will not forget is one of the homework pages Heidi brought home. On the name line was printed Heidi 20 and in smaller print….I love You. When I questioned her what that was, she explained to me how much she loved Mr Webster. She was leaving the message for you, Mr Webster. You are her favorite! You have touched many lives. I’m very grateful as a parent of Cooks Corners that my children were in your care. Thank You so very much for all you have given for our kids. Your in our thoughts.
Well I just don’t know what to say….a dear, old friend of mine from elementary school contacted me today to tell me about your health struggles. I’m not sure if you will ever know the impact you had on my life, Mr. Webster. I was in your 5th grade class at Hayes Leonard in the late 80s…we lovingly called you “B. W . or B. Dub.” I’m 36 now and have been an elementary school teacher for 13 years. You taught me how powerful one person, one positive influence, one teacher can be. To this day, I cherish the memories and friendships I had that year while I was in your class. You were the master of making kids feel loved, important, and smart. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a powerful influence in my life and the lives of countless others. I thank God for letting our paths cross. May He bless you and comfort you.
Mr. Webster was my 6th grade teacher at Hayes Leonard…and he was EXCEPTIONAL. He always took time with his students and really cared. I remember open gym, recess, singing in his class room and his love of basketball. He helped kick off my love of track and I remember when I moved on to Junior high he would come to our track meets….again he was a wonderful teacher..and I was so blessed to have met him. So sorry to hear this news and he will be greatly missed…prayers for him and all his family.
Mr. Webster –
I don’t believe you’ve ever forgotten a face. When I was a shy and new fourth grader, you would greet me every morning with a “Hi, Katie,” as I quietly waved to you. That wore off as I got to know you. You were always encouraging and such a presence. Even when I came back as a high schooler, minus the glasses and a few inches taller, you still said “Hi, Katie,” like no time had passed.
You always took the time to listen, and gently tease. I remember how you always had cookies in your closet – and how you were always proud of your kids. I’m so glad that I got to have you as a teacher. If there were more Mr. Websters around, the world would be a fantastic place.
Ah where to start. You honestly were the most impactful teacher I have yet to meet. You were so passionate about your job and all your students. I remember you calling me “Hollywood” because you thought I was going to be a star someday. You were so inspiring and encouraging of everyone and all their aspirations, no matter how extreme they were (considering we were so young). I’ll never forget making you stay up to show me all the constellations at Camp Tecumseh or you trying to distract me at the shuttle simulation for NASA. You are apart of so many cherished childhood memories I have and no one can ever replace the spot you have in my heart. Thank you for being the most awe-inspiring teacher I’ve ever had and will ever have. Cooks Corners won’t ever be the same without you. I’ll miss you everyday but I’m glad you’re in a better place and resting peacefully. I’ll see you again one day, so until then Mr. Webster
Gary, you have left such an imprint on so many young lives! My sons, Dane and Dylan, both have such wonderful memories of you in their years at Cooks Corners. You always went the extra mile for all the kids at school, not just the students in your class. Always present at every PTA meetings. Trips to camp and trips to the Dunes, all which meant so much to everyone, parents included. You and Jill were an unbeatable team! Sending our love over the miles.
You are simply the most amazing teacher ever! You are beloved and made the transition from Chicago to Valpo so much easier because of how you treated Alexandra! Thank you for all you have done! We were so lucky to have you!!!!
I was so sad to hear this news and you have been in my thoughts the past few days. You were a wonderful teacher and mentor and you made a difference in many lives at Hayes Leonard.
I don’t think you will ever know how much I love you. In fourth grade my class was known the trouble makers of the school everyone knew it and Mr. Webster was the only teacher that believed that we could undo that title. He truly believed in us and I don’t think you know how much that means to me. You were there for me when I was mad about something or sad about something and you always put a smile on my face. He always ran the Variety Show and showed up to all of the students extra activities or sports whenever he could. He supported me with student council and came to my Spelling Bee! In fifth grade I was in flag crew with Mr.Webster and three other girls and every morning seeing him out there It occurred to me every single morning no matter how hot or how cold it was outside he was always out there helping all the kids off the busses and every morning it just amazed me how much he cared for each and every kid at Cooks Corners. Mr.Webster is my inspiration and why I I want to be a teacher when I grow up .Mr. Webster will always hold a very special place in my heart.
I have always known that people go into teaching to make a difference. You have done that in the most amazing way. I can’t thank you enough for the ways you helped me through fifth and sixth grade. You always listened and offered the best advice. I want you to know that I am now using this advice with my daughter ( who is in fifth grade) and think of you as I hear it coming out of my mouth. Thank you so much! You have set the bar high for what a good teacher and roll model should be.
I am so glad that I was able to see you a few times over the years. Just know that I am thinking of you and I am sending good thoughts your way.
-Stacy Babcock Marion
My children’s experience at Cooks Corners was made immeasurably better and more memorable because of you. Not a day went by in that school in which you didn’t play an integral role in making all kids, no matter the grade, feel special and important. You have given yourself tirelessly to the children and families of Cooks Corners….from the classroom, to the lunchroom, to the Dunes, to the talent show…..and on and on. Please, please know that you have touched more lives positively than most people on this earth. You have changed lives and made this world a better place. The character, kindness, energy, and altruism you have modeled for our kids through the years will live on in each and every one of them. You have also set the standard for all teachers in this system.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You’re the best!
The Koebcke Family
Thanks so much for making Hayes-Leonard such a wonderful place. At times it seems just like yesterday that we were playing basketball at open gym or having fun recess. You will always be one of the best teachers that I ever had!
Mr. Webster, I want to thank you on behalf of my children, Joe and Chloe Hoeksema, for the wonderful memories you gave them in their education at Cooks Corners. I admired your dedication to teaching and to “your kids”. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.- Thank you, AGAIN.
Mr. Webster was a 6th grade teacher at Hayes-Leonard when I was a student there. I will always cherish the early morning intramural basketball games. I owe my bank shot to Mr. Webster’s wisdom & patience. Thoughts & prayers are with you all.
Mr. Webster served as my main motivation for entering the field of elementary education going into college. I wanted to be him. He made such an impact on me as a young learner and I never forgot it. Currently working in the field of education, i can only hope to make an impact even close the one he has left on numerous students by providing such a strong and positive male influence. All of the time and effort he put in to make sure everyone got what they needed in and through extracurriculars did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Mr. Webster is a fantastic teacher and human being we all will continue to admire.
What an impact you have had on my life and the lives of the entire Furlin family. You live your life always doing what’s right, you do not discriminate, you show passion in all that you do, you give your time like it’s endless, you care. What a gift to know you.
I’m so glad I had the pleasure of meeting you while our kids were (and still are) at Cooks. One of the things I’ve admired most about you is your willingness to give your time to the kids whether it was at after school sports, Camp Tecumpseh, the talent show, greeting students every morning, or attending PTO meetings. I always knew your heart was in teaching for all the right reasons. You are a real treasure and I thank you for being such a positive force in not only Mira and Nick’s lives but also in mine. We’ve been lucky to have you here. I wish you peace.
When I first saw you in kindergarten, I was scared. But as I grew up through the years at Cooks, I got to know you a lot better, and I wasn’t scared anymore. If anything, you were a comfort to me knowing you were there to look out for me. My fondest memory of you was in fourth grade. After Christmas Break you gave our whole class a clear cube of little, colorful paper squares for each of us to have. We ended up using them to make little houses for our little Squinky toys. We were so obsessed with the papers that you threatened to throw them all away because we wouldn’t pay attention in class. Thank you for being such a positive force in my life and I will always remember you. I always enjoyed seeing what tie you were wearing when I came to school.
It breaks my heart to hear about all of the unfortunate events that have recently transpired, but I can only imagine that throughout all of it you still have had that big smile on your face that everyone knows so well. As I don’t remember much from elementary school, I do remember Mr Webster. I think I speak for all of my classmates when I say that you were always a “father figure” to each of us. There are very few teachers that students at that age actually wanted to be friends with, but you somehow made that a reality. I was so fortunate to have such an amazing, passionate and patient teacher and that is something that I will never forget. Thank you for being such a positive influence to myself, as well as so many others. You will never know how truly appreciated you were and what a positive impact you had on so many students.
All my prayers,
Mr.Webster and family,
I was in mr websters class two years ago. When I was a wide eyed vulnerable second grader, mr Webster had told me that he was going to retire. I didn’t respond to that very well, to say the least. I cried, and begged him to stay the 2 more years that it would take for me to be in fourth grade, so that I could be in his classroom. One of my closest friends john also has a very special bond with mr.webster. They were “BFFTLEs” or, best friends for totally like ever. And no matter where they were, whether it be at Camp Tecumseh (the happiest place on earth) or in the classroom. Everywhere he went, he spread joy and love and laughter. After two years, the class lists were out, and I was in mr websters class. 180 days of laughter and absolute joy were spent in that classroom. When I moved onto 5th grade, it had been our little joke: “two more years” as in the two years he spent waiting for me to be in his class. When I was a fifth grader, mr Webster had moved onto first grade. He told us a million times that he had always wanted to teach the younger grades, because they would have behaved better than us. (Which is true, my class was absolutely horrible behavior wise. You could ask anyone in the school) anyway, mr Webster wanted to get us out of the title of “that class”. We finally did. When I was in 5th grade, I was a flag helper, and a bus helper for Mr. webster’s room. Every single day I would come down to the primary hallway and watch the kids in his room. He could always see If I had a bad day he always knew if I had gotten a bad grade. He always made me fell happy and warm inside. At 5 foot 6 I am in gymnastics, and he never gave up on me. He came to 2 of my meets. He cheered as loud as he possibly could. He has built my self confidence to a level that will never be explainable. He always listened to any stories I has to tell and I listened to his. The last thing I said to him was “I’ll see you next year! Maybe I can visit!” He said “okay babe. I’ll see you then” I never saw him after that. You know, I was in variety show. all of my friends and I had sung a ton of random things most of the time. He knew how much I loved the musical “Wicked” there is a song in wicked at the end of the musical called “For Good” the last thing said in that song is “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good” and because I knew mr Webster, I indeed have been changed for the good in life. May God’s peace be with your family forever.
Mr. Webster will always be a fond memory of my childhood. Always enjoyed the fun and energy that he created at Hayes Leonard Elementary! Having his boom box jamming Joe Jackson, sharing the Twinkees from the closet, and finally, a heated game of basketball with many of the kids in the morning in the gym versus Mr. Hughes. Nobody enjoyed teaching more and inspired so many. Even after the many moons ago that I was in his sixth grade and now that I had kids of my own, he will always be known as THE MR. WEBSTER! God Bless.
Danny DeTorrice, 17
Mr. Webster was by far my favorite teacher. I had always heard stories about his class from first grade all the way to the first day of fourth about how intimidating he could be. I was relieved to find these stories to be completely false. Mr. Webster was by far the greatest, most memorable teacher that I have ever had and probably will be in the future. My experience with Mr. Webster doesn’t stop there. He was the main force behind the idea for my Eagle Project. Those benches outside the school, yeah the idea for those was conceived by Mr. Webster and I was lucky enough to be there to bring it into fruition. He was a huge help for reference throughout the project and for that I am extremely grateful. I’ll keep you in my prayers. Thanks for being one of the most memorable figures of my life thus far.
I just heard the news about your health yesterday and haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since. I’m glad I found this page. I actually went out and bought a card to send to the VNA hospice. I called Cooks Corners and they told me that’s where I could send it. I will post my message here instead. I was in fifth grade in 1989, and I don’t think I’ve seen you since sometime in the early 90s but when I heard you were ill I had the sudden need to contact you and tell you what a beloved teacher you were of mine. You deserve to hear that whenever I hear someone talk about a teacher who truly loves their job and the kids, I always think of you. You defined the idea that teaching isn’t just a 7-3 job. You taught us much more than words on a page or numbers on a chalkboard. You taught us life lessons. You were always playing with us at recess and joking around with us but when it came time to be serious, you were right there to guide us in a way that made us understand. I’m 36 years old now with kids of my own and some days I feel like elementary school was yesterday. I will always remember your kindness, your humor, and most of all your passion for teaching and the care you showed toward your students. Undoubtedly, you have touched hundreds, if not thousands of lives throughout the years. Thank you, Mr. Webster. You will not be forgotten. God bless you and your family. Sincerely, Kelley Williams (formerly Olivotto)
Words can not express what your legacy will leave behind. Your legacy for life was all encompassing and touched more people than you will ever know. You were 100% committed to all students and athletes . I have endless memories of basketball open gym and competitive basketball and football games during recess. I appreciated the continued support through my high school basketball career and also as a teacher and coach. So many great memories, but I will never forget in 1985 cramming Lisa Furlin and Deanne Benjamin into your little black car to travel to our 6th grade basketball game! You are a class act. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I can’t even begin to imagine what my school career would have been like without you. People often ask me, “Who was your all time favorite teacher?” Without hesitation, my answer is and will always be, “Mr. Webster!” You taught me more in my one year with you than any other teacher. I still drive my parents, friends, and people of the public crazy by correcting their grammar! I will never forget how excited everyone got when you would come out and play basketball with us. The way I remember it, you never missed a shot!!! The way you can make an impact on a child’s life that sticks with them for the rest of their lives is incredible. I used to go home after my high school soccer games and ask my parents if they saw you at the game. It means the world to me that you actually took time out of your day to come and watch my games multiple times! You are the nicest, most giving, and friendly person I think I have ever met. It is an absolute honor to have been a student of yours. My family and I are thinking of you Mr. Webster! Thank you so much for everything you have done for me!
You were Kaylen’s first teacher when we moved to Valparaiso. You were so patient with her and put her at ease in her new school. She thrived in your class and loved the way you made her feel special; nick naming her “Sunshine”. When Matthew made it to 4th grade seven years later, we were thankful he was in your class! There were so many ways you made that year a memorable one for him as well; field trips to the Dunes and climbing Mt. Baldy, Camp Tecumseh (you were in the dorm with Matthew and Sam Klumpe – probably not much sleeping), after school sports (especially bowling) and musical swimming pools at Field Day! Matthew remembers singing camp songs with the reading buddies, “Google day” for brain storming and putting him in the group of mathematicians! You made learning fun, you made everyone feel special and you invested yourself in our children beyond the year you had them in class. I can picture you in the stands watching former students perform, cheering them on. You are a teacher that will always stand out as a favorite! Thank you for sharing your gift!
Mr Webster was a rockstar in the eyes of all of his students , and treated everyone the same , hope we meet again on a diffrent shore , I pray for peace for him and his family.
I had Mr. Webster in 4th grade and I have never had a teacher like him since. Mr. Webster was the best teacher anyone could ask for. He touched so many peoples’ lives, including mine. He was a man that I looked up to since i was little, I knew he was a man I could model myself after. He always was involved in the school and helped any kid that he could. I remember how excited I was when I found out I had him in the 4th grade. That same feeling hit me every time I would see him this year at Schoops and get to have a short conversation with him. No one will ever be able to fill the role that he played in all of our lives and I’m proud to call him a teacher and a friend.
Thank you so much for being such an influence on my life. I believe that I speak for not only myself, but also for my classmates at Cooks Corners when I say that the way you taught was more than just about educating us, it was about teaching us to be well rounded, good, educated people. I will never forget your fourth grade science class, after school sports, the talent show at the Memorial Opera House, playing against your park league baseball team, or our 4th grade trip to Camp Tecumseh. My friends still make fun of me for asking you to stop telling us ghost stories one night on the trip because I was scared. While Cooks Corners was a special place full of wonderful teachers, you were a shining star in your field. Thank you so much for being someone that had such a positive influence on my life. I will never forget you Mr. Webster.
I was a student of Mr. Webster’s–or “Webbie” as we fondly called him–in fourth grade at Cooks Corner. I’m 28 years old now and honestly can’t remember what year I was in fourth grade but I will always remember some of the things Mr. Webster taught me… whether he knew it or not. The number one thing that has always stuck with me and helped to turn me into the man I am today is that he once told us that when we saw him as we grew older we would ignore or even avoid him because we would think we were too cool. I took this to heart and have always made sure to go out of my way to say hi to a former teacher, friend, acquaintance, or customer and has served me as, honestly, the most important social aspect of my life. It has made me a better person. Mr. Webster made me a better person. I could go on about how he believed in my mental capabilities or how he was always there to help me when I was being an emotional little kid but I’ll stop here and just say this: Webbie, thank you very much for being you.
Mr. Webster was my 6th grade teacher at Hayes-Leonard…the last 6th grade class (save the best for last right?) I wish I had the words to give back to you what you gave to me. I will hold memories in my heart, and pray that someday my children will be lucky enough to have a teacher who is willing to give of themselves as you were to give to us. From Camp Tecumseh (how many hair dryers can you plug into an outlet before it blows?), to field day, and countless games and graduations. Thank you – Hayes-Leonard would not have been the same without you. I would not be the same without you…and I will sing on and remember… “There she was just a-walkin’ down the street singin’ do-wah diddy-diddy down diddy-do…”
I am a former student from Hayes-Leonard (’84) and I’d like to wish Mr. Webster and his family peace in this transition. He is one of my all time favorite teachers. I loved playing basketball with him before school and his full volume sing-alongs. He was a tremendous role model and terrific teacher. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Mr. Webster, I am a former parent of Jessica Landrum who loved you at Hayes Leonard , I am also a school bus driver for Valpo for the past 23 years . I always loved taking you on field trips for the bus was always filled with laughter and song , oh yes, the song !!! Taking care of business !!!! Every time I hear this song I can’t but help to think of you !!! Thank you for this everlasting memory !!!! Diana
I have been blessed to know Gary Webster for the past decade and a half. Gary was the discussion rep for Cooks Corners for all of my years in teacher association leadership. He was passionate, fairminded, a great leader and a fierce advocate for his students, Gary embodied all of the qualities we see in great teachers. I learned a great deal from him and will always be grateful for his friendship. Words cannot truly describe the loss being felt nor the magnitude of his legacy. Know that thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time!
Gary was at Hayes Leonard my first year of teaching 1972/73…I so admired then and now his passion for his profession and his love for the students. I also remember seeing him at Chocolate Cafe before school when I would meet friends every so often. He would get one coffee for then and one for later in his school day. He is a wonderful person!
Mr. Gary Webster,
What an honor to know you in my life. I have nothing but fond memories of you spending hours upon hours with us running relay races. I do not remember how old you were back then but you used to run and race right their next to us. Leading and mentoring by setting the example. I also remember playing endless capture the flag games with you at Hayes Leonard. Your commitment to your students will never be forgotten and your selfless and caring spirit will continue to live on through all of us that truly knew what you represented. Oh…if you only knew how many people you have touched. I can only imagine, knowing what I knew and remember of you. The world has it backwards honoring such people as sports figures and actors. You are a hero in my life! I thank you for that. God Bless You! Thank You! May you know I will always strive to become half the man you are! Hooya! Rangers Lead the Way! De Oppresso Liber!
I remember every single day that you were my teacher. It was 31 years ago…Hayes Leonard Elementary, 6th grade. You are the most memorable teacher that I ever had. You taught us how to be independent, to learn at our own pace, to be tolerant of those that were different than us, to be caring, to be strong, to be inclusive, to be gentle. I was always in awe of how you handled the different personalities in our class. How you tolerated all of us:) Even after middle school and high school, you remained a force in my education. Meeting up with you as an adult at Cooks Corners was truly a gift. The first day you saw me in the hall, you called me by my first name. How did you do that? It was an honor for both of my children to have you at Cooks. I knew that they would come out the other side with all the “knowledge” that you can’t learn from books in their back pocket because of powerful of a teacher you are… Go in peace. Know that you are loved so very much by me and my children. Words cannot express how much you have touched our lives.
I am a former Cooks Corners student and Mr. Webster was my fourth grade teacher. He inspired my love of reading and drawing. I never really took either of those things very seriously before his class and now I would like to go to college for art and I read religiously. I go through books like water now. He provided me with my first ever sketch pad and the rest is history. He really did make a major impact on my life. He taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. He showed me that books can be some of your best friends and can make you escape everything for a little bit. I’m forever grateful for everything that he taught us and allowed us to do. I remember he used to give me construction paper and I used to make paper hats out of it. I also remember going to Camp Tecumseh and to this day that’s one of my best memories. I was going through a rough time in fourth grade and I remember that Mr. Webster was very supportive and told me that he was there for me to talk to if I needed someone. He’s a very amazing person and I am blessed to have been able to have him be a part of my life and make me into the person that I am today. Thank you, Mr. Webster, for everything.
Dear Mr. Webster, You might know who I am when you read this. I know that you are probably not feeling good I heard that you had cancer and I’m really sad so if you don’t get to read this I understand. I know I never got you as a teacher but I still heard great comments about you. I’m still in elementary school so the very little chance you might go back to teaching, and you got me that really would be awesome. You got my brother Michael but like I said you never got me but you always said hello you will always will be the best in my book. Your “student” Peter Jerome Piechocki
We have known Mr. Webster for a long time, and he was also the favorite teacher of both my boys. I wish we could post pictures here because my (now 7th grade) son, Bo, spent most of his kindergarten year dressed in a shirt and tie because he wanted to be just like Mr. Webster. My younger son, Sam, who is currently in Mr. Webster’s first grade class, grew up idolizing Gary because his brother did. Sam spent his kindergarten year waiting to have Gary for first grade. I will never forget the smile on his face when he found out he was in his class. We also have a picture of Sam and Mr. Webster dressed alike. Sam decided he was going to dress like Mr. Webster for “twin day”… I’ve not yet met anyone quite like Gary Webster. His dedication to Cooks Corners and all the students there is like no other I have ever seen. We cherish the time we were able to spend with Gary, and will remember his kindness and dedication to the children of Valparaiso with much fondness and appreciation.
You were always the teacher everybody wanted for fourth grade. When I was lucky enough to get you, I was ecstatic! From singing at the talent shows with you, to practicing the mile right next to you, you will be remembered. I hope to make you proud when I’m an elementary school teacher<3
When I moved to Valpo in 1978 Mr. Webster saw that I didn’t have any friends and went out of his way to make sure I was included in activities and introduced me to quite a few kids. I was not a scholar by any means but he made school fun. My prayers are with his family.
You made a huge impact on my life as a young, wide-eyed, eager to learn 4th grader. I will never forget you letting Cami Kern and I occasionally nap in your classroom during lunch when we were worn out from Nutcracker rehearsals or you reading us The Wizard of Oz and Where the Red Fern Grows aloud to us. You were the catalyst for my love of literature and learning, and I will never forget you.
My experience at Cooks Corners was an altogether amazing adventure thanks in part largely to Mr.Webster. He was the teacher that everyone wanted in fourth grade. However, you were still lucky enough to get him as a part time science teacher when Mrs.Stefanski and him would switch classes for a few hours every week. My fondest memory of him was the day we all huddled in his classroom and watched The Wizard of Oz. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to movie trivia and I still remember some of the fun facts he taught us. I vaguely remember there were specific treats handed out during portions of the movie, but my memory is foggy from 17 years ago. I know popsicles and candy were involved. Mr.Webster has left a positive impact on myself and my whole family and I am so grateful for those many memories. Thank you so much for everything.
I am saddened to hear of this news about my very favorite teacher of all time, Mr Webster! This is going back a long long time..1977 to be exact. He examplified a true caring, happy and involved teacher. He holds the record for a lot of things I am sure, but defintely for drinking a milk carton the fastest. He always made every activity fun! I wish him peace and comfort during this time in his life. God Bless you, Mr. Webster. Carol Anderson
Dear Gary, thanks so much for being such an inspiring teacher to my children. I always remember how you came to Lincoln’s games, even in high school. You will always be one of his favorites. You would be proud to know he is now in grad school pursuing a phd in biochemistry. God bless you and your family.
I can’t begin to understand why bad things happen to good people. You dedicated your life everyday to the kids you taught and I can’t thank you enough. After all my years in school, you have by far been the most influential teacher I have ever had. My favorite memory of you was playing “I want Candy” by Aaron Carter in the classroom after lunch and all of us dancing around the room. It’s the perfect memory to depict how fun loving of a person you are. It’s so hard to understand what is happening but we have to believe you are safe in The Lord’s hands. Thank you again for caring for all of your students as if they were your own. I love you.
Mr Webster was such an amazing teacher to hundreds of students over the years. I was lucky enough to be taught by him in 6th grade at Hayes. I will always remember his unique teaching techniques and our field days….he loved that day so much! I was in one of his first Christmas plays that he had written with Becky Stanier and Amie Charlson. He came to see me show my horse at the fair bringing me a stuffed animal as he would follow so many of his students activities. Their will never be another Mr. Webster, for anyone who had the honor of knowing him we were better people because of it. I was honored recently to have been his nurse and meet his family. I will forever be grateful that I was given that gift. He is an amazing man and will never be forgotten.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have you as a teacher. I first met you in 7th grade ’cause I was friends with Lee Petcu, Steven Mueller, Jeff Anselm and many other students you taught. 35 years later we had the pleasure of you teaching our boys. Ev and Colin both loved you as a teacher and I had a blast the year I went to Camp with Colin’s class.
You are a blessing to many families!
I had mr.webster as a Fourth grade teacher he was awesome he never gave homework he just a very awesome teacher my prayers are with you mr.webster
Dear Mr.Webster ive known u since I was a baby, I always wanted you as a teacher but wright when u went to 1st grade I went to 4th grade.I was sad that day, Jordyn McCart always told me she loved u as a teacher. You have made a huge impact on my life to.
Dealing with elementary school kids is hard. You, however, excelled at it. To be in Mr. Webster’s class was an honor and a privilege, and we knew it too. I will always remember the movie and song references that went over our heads, but that you were so passionate about. I want you to know that you have made a difference in countless children’s lives and no Cook’s Corners kid will ever forget that. The way that you actually cared for every kid that walked through the doors of the school is admirable and inspirational. Mr. Webster, the people who are lucky enough to have had their paths cross with yours will be forever grateful of this. Your impact on us as children has followed us as adults. Thank you.
I am a Cooks Corners parent, my daughters Elizabeth and Audrey had the privilege to have him as their teacher. They just simply adored him and always looked forward to school. He has touched so many lives. There wasn’t a school event I didn’t see him at. He even participated in Zumba time at recess during the week of their Walkathon. He has been a key to making Cooks a great school. He encouraged and supported our children 110% and then some! Mr. Webster you have been in our prayers and I hope you can feel the hugs we share for you. Thank you for inspiring my children to love math, challenging them, teaching them, and just being the wonderful person you are! Thank you with heavy hearts from the Dillabaugh family.
Daniel, Holly, Elizabeth, Jimmy, Audrey and Benjamin
I never had Mr Webster as a teacher,but my whole Cooks Corners experice would of been totally different if I hadn’t known him. I knew him early on at cooks. I started doing the talent shows in 2nd grade. He would coordinate a finale for the show. I just remeber being on stage as he lead the whole group singing Pink Houses. Also did after school sports with him. How many kids get to do archery? He was very fun to be around and eveyone thought he was so cool! He was well respected too. Im pretty sure he knew every kids name at the school. He was able to relate to kids so well. He even came to some lady vickings soccer games. So many great memories! Could go on and on! So happy he was apart of my elementary experice.
I am a Cooks Corners parent and Valpo teacher. I can’t say enough about Gary and his dedication and caring about his students. I can’t remember a school event that Gary was not at…and neither can my two children. Gary was the first one there and the last one to leave when it was over. Even though my daughter never had Mr. Webster as her classroom teacher, she looked forward to interactions with him daily: a morning greeting as she got off the bus, some encouragement at Trivia, or some confidence in the talent show. Just this week as she was preparing her speech to give to school and was feeling nervous, Mackenzie was talking about how she wished Mr. Webster was there. He has always had a way of making the kids feel special and important. Mr. Webster is going to be missed greatly …Not for the academic expertise but for the way he cared about kids and always built them up ready to succeed. He will forever be remembered as a Cooks Corners legacy!
Gary,my friend. You are one of the best people i have known. Always nice and happy. You light up the lives of so many people. I am so very proud to call you friend. I will never forget you. My kuds love and respect you. They always call you Uncle Gary. They are happy when they see you somewhere in Valpo. Tom, myself and, Ashley,Mike, Autumn, and Wyatt will miss you. We all love you. Vicki
Mr. Webster –
When I moved to Hayes Leonard in 5th grade and you came outside during recess to play soccer with us, I knew I liked you! Your encouragement and teaching has stayed with me all these years. I’ve always hoped that my son would have a teacher who he loved as much and would make an impact in his life like you did mine. I was just telling him the other day how cool my 6th grade teacher was. How you would eat lunch and go out to recess with us. It makes a difference in the lives of kids when a teacher cares enough to form a relationship with them. That you did. And you did it well! Thank you!
My kids love Mr. Webster so much! He and Ms. Stefanski were such a wonderful 4th grade team — they couldn’t wait to get to 4th grade to have them as teachers. When my daughter Shelby saw him at the Valplayso build recently (she is now a junior in high school) he called her by name, talked with her about how high school was and asked after her brother Matt, who is a Freshman in college. I say all this to just tell you how special a teacher and man he is and how beloved is he by all the Cooks Corner kids. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Jeff and Nicole both had Mr. Webster and he remains their favorite. We saw him often at their high school games, Jeff ‘ s open house, and Schoops, of course! Our hearts are heavy and we will remember him always.
From our family to yours we want all of you to know that we understand how difficult things are for your family right now. There are no words to adequately express the deep sadness you all feel. Loss is so very painful and it leaves us changed forever. Our family is so grateful that all of you have allowed us to be with you on this journey. We continue to lift you and your siblings up and hope you find strength and peace in your love for each other. All the best, Tracy, Fred, Matthew and Noah Traut.
I don’t think you could possibly ever understand how many lives you’ve touched in your years as a teacher. I am beyond grateful that I got the chance to be your student, but to be honest I can’t remember one thing I learned about math or science in fourth grade, but that year you taught me the most important lesson ever. I once was complaining about a coach who was being especially hard on me and yelling at me all te time and how I hated him for it and you told me that it was good he was yelling at me and being hard on me and that it’s when he stops yelling that I need to worry because that means he no longer cares. There is no way that I would have ever survived playing soccer for as long as I have if it weren’t for that advice. If it weren’t for that day and what you said I highly doubt that I would be a D1 soccer player like I am now and I thank you so much for that. Thanks for also teaching me how to be a good person and how to work hard for things…and for stopping the bullying that I was victim of in elementary school. You’ve touched my life so much and thanks for being there for me since 4th grade. I will never forget you and the impact you’ve had on my life…love you Mr. Webster
I had Mr. Webster for 4th grade in 2004. Mr. Webster was the teacher that everyone knew of whether you had him or not because he was so involved with all the students at Cooks Corners. I loved doing the talent show every year. Once I was so terrified to go out and do my act and he sat there and made sure I was 100% comfortable and confident. I believe I delayed the whole show, but that didn’t matter because he made sure I was ok. I saw him almost a year ago and I was so scared to approach him because I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. As soon as I said hi he immediately new my name. What an amazing guy. I can’t think of any teacher was has inspired as many kids as Mr. Webster has.
I am a former Cooks parent. My children were never in Gary’s class, but they had a”Mr. Webster story” almost every day of the elementary career. I feel that every elementary school would be blessed if they had a Mr. Webster. He is truly a teacher who wants the best for every student. He offers his time to provide activities at the school, he attends every single function that is hosted by the school, he calls every student by name as they enter the building each morning. Mr. Webster is all about building kids up. I remember seeing mr. Webster in the cafeteria every day. He would eat lunch with the special needs kids at the school. He would play on the playground at recess. He shared his stories. He shared his ties. He shared himself so generously. My kids were blessed to be in Gary’s building, and I was blessed to witness a teacher who was 150% committed to kids.
Well to me, he’s always been “uncle Gary”. Not by blood but by being one of my dads closest friends & a part of our extended family for decades. I knew every time I saw uncle Gary from the time I was a little girl that I would be greeted with a warm hug & a kiss on the cheek. I can’t think of a sweeter man on this earth. So kind & so generous. I was recently reminded of the time he had me pay him $1.00 for his blue Chrysler Lebaron convertible that he was really giving to our family. Growing up I really didn’t know the difference between my dads group of friends who I called my aunts & uncles & his siblings. All I knew was that I was surrounded by lots of love from some amazing people including, Gary Webster. What a blessing he has been to the Brooks family!