Remembering Pat Havas, Longtime Assistant to Head of School

Pat HavasPat Havas, who dedicated 35 years to working at Calhoun from 1967 to 2002, passed away on April 11, 2020, due to complications from Alzheimer's.

During her incredible career, Pat worked as Assistant to the Head, serving under five of Calhoun's eleven Heads of School—Pem McCurdy, Gene Ruth, Neen Hunt, Mariana Leighton and Steve Nelson. Her tenure spanned from our days as an all-girls school to the move to the 81st Street campus and through numerous expansions and growth.

Beyond her title and experience, which first began as a parent volunteer, Pat was the "Calhoun Mom" to both colleagues and students who arrived at school each day. She knew and cared for everyone, embodying the compassion and love that defines our community.

Nearly 1,000 students passed through Calhoun's doors while Pat served the school. And as science teacher John Roeder noted upon her retirement, "Whenever we had a problem we didn't know how to handle at Calhoun, we'd take it to Pat Havas."

Former Heads of School Gene Ruth (1973-1980), Neen Hunt (1980-1992) and Steve Nelson (1998-2017) offered these reflections:

Gene Ruth
Pat was a treasure. An unbelievable human being who was a wise cohort of mine and who provided me with wonderful backing and guidance during my tenure as the Headmaster of Calhoun. We shared the same office for 10 years and never had one argument. Pat provided me with sage advice and friendship during a time when Calhoun was at a bleak period in its history. Pat was instrumental in helping to keep Calhoun alive and flourish into one of the great independent NYC schools it is today.

Neen Hunt
As the new Head of Calhoun in 1980, I "inherited" Pat as my administrative assistant, and it was my good fortune that for the next 12 years Pat and I shared a small office space—and most importantly—our professional and personal lives. She was an invaluable source of comfort, optimism and balanced perspective. Pat kept me laughing; offered her wisdoms; shepherded me over the shoals of headship. She was confidante, advisor, and truthteller. I trusted her completely and relied on her daily for encouragement and guidance. She was psychologist, philosopher, historian, analyst, and sage "rolled into one". She was a rare bird—perfectly coifed, unflappable, smart in the ways of the world.

Pat brought calm to the turbulence. She "prepped" me for Board meetings, reviewed my speeches, and informed my decisions. In all those years she never failed me—not once! How lucky for me, and for Calhoun, that this unique, incredible woman chose us as the objects of her friendship, generous service, intelligence, and talent.

The Hunt family is saddened for Debbie and other members of Pat's family, who we knew well; but we also realize that Pat's legacy is woven into the fabric of Calhoun. She is the heart of Calhoun, and as it continues to live on, so will she.

Steve Nelson
The sad news about Pat Havas triggered so many memories. She was a life saver when I began my tenure. She defined institutional memory and was a quiet, stable presence through some of Calhoun's most tumultuous (and thrilling!) days. From her retirement to mine she remained a dear friend of the school. My love and support to Debbie and her family.

Pat is survived by her daughter, Debbie Havas Aronson '79, who serves as Calhoun's Director of Community Service Learning. We hope you join us in sharing condolences with Pat's family, and celebrating the impactful work she did on behalf of Calhoun.

Pat Havas with Heads

Photo: Pat's retirement celebration in 2002 with former Heads of School. (L-R) Steve Nelson, Life Trustee Bob Beir, Neen Hunt, Pat Havas, Mariana Leighton, Gene Ruth.