For four decades, from 1956 until 1996, Bill Harvie served the Norfolk Academy community in innumerable ways.
Math teacher. Department chairman. Honor Council liaison. Lived on campus. Basketball coach. Baseball coach. Football coach. Tennis coach. Played pickup basketball with (much younger) alumni.
In all those capacities and more, he brought joy to students and colleagues alike.
“Some people just have a knack for making everyone they come in contact with feel better," said Middle School Director Tommy Hudgins, who played baseball for Mr. Harvie at Academy and later joined him on the faculty.
Similar accolades have poured in since Mr. Harvie passed away on January 3. Former students have raved about how he patiently helped them find the right answers. Fellow teachers have shared how much they absorbed simply by watching him. And student-athletes have offered stories about the encouragement he provided on the field.
“A great guy," said History Teacher Toy Savage '71, who was a student in Mr. Harvie's math class, played baseball for him, and later taught with him. “You always got the feeling he was on your side."
Before and during his service at Academy, Mr. Harvie had a distinguished military career. In 1943, he took a break from attending Hampden-Sydney College to join the Navy as a pilot. He was commissioned in 1945, and became carrier qualified. He was weeks away from being shipped to Japan when World War II ended. He remained in the Navy, largely in the reserves, until 1971. He was called up to active duty in Korea, flew reconnaissance missions during that conflict, and ultimately retired as a Commander.
In fall 1945, Mr. Harvie returned to Hampden-Sydney and rejoined the basketball team. At the end of his senior season, he was chosen as a member of the Virginia All-State basketball team. Upon his graduation in 1947, he was awarded the Gammon Cup, which goes to the member of Hampden-Sydney's graduating class who has best served the school through character, scholarship, and athletic ability.
For a few years before he came to Academy, in addition to his Naval service, Mr. Harvie farmed in central Virginia.
At Academy, Mr. Harvie taught Upper School Math. Michelle Adams '91 had him in 10th grade, and recalls his unique ability to connect with every student. He had a quiet personality, but a gentlemanly, dignified, humble demeanor and good sense of humor that warmed up a class.
He also showed tremendous patience and dedication to helping students.
“He made you very comfortable helping you get to the right answer," said Mrs. Adams, who is now a trustee at Academy.
Another attribute of Mr. Harvie's that stood out to Mrs. Adams was his devotion to the school family. She never had him as a coach, but remembers him being at so many of her games. And not just hers. He was at all the other sporting events, as well as fine arts performances.
“He was always a presence there," Mrs. Adams said.
That devotion also showed through Mr. Harvie's coaching. Joanne Renn coached girls basketball from 1978 until 1992, and had Mr. Harvie as an assistant most of that time.
Ms. Renn is now athletics director at Virginia Wesleyan University, next door to Academy, a post she has held for more than a decade. But back then, she acknowledges she was a young coach with much to learn. Mr. Harvie served as the perfect assistant, a veteran sage who taught her how to relate to student-athletes.
A tall, powerful figure, Mr. Harvie often worked with forwards and centers. He had a knack for keeping an even keel, no matter how tense the situation in a game. He also knew how to gain student-athletes' respect and attention without being loud or boisterous.
“You listened when he spoke," Ms. Renn said.
That assessment is one held by countless teacher-coaches. When Math Teacher Tom Duquette arrived at Academy in 1981, Mr. Harvie was chairman of that department. Mr. Duquette said he learned about teaching simply by following around Mr. Harvie and his friend Arthur MacConochie, another longtime Academy teacher, and observing how they interacted with students.
“The obvious care that they had for their students had a profound effect on everyone," Mr. Duquette said.
Mr. Duquette later became Math Department Chairman. He also coached NA lacrosse for 38 seasons, a successful career that earned him spots in several halls of fame.
Mr. Harvie was a major influence, a driver of that success in both academics and athletics, Mr. Duquette said.
“He was a special guy and legions of students are the better for being part of this institution when he was part of this institution," Mr. Duquette said.
Please read Mr. Harvie's full obituary. A Celebration of Life ceremony will take place at a time and place to be announced later. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to either Norfolk Academy, 1585 Wesleyan Drive, Norfolk, VA 23502, or to Hampden-Sydney College, The Office of College Advancement, PO Box 637, Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943 would be appreciated.