Sudden passing of Sen. Scott McGilvray, NH NEA President, shocks community

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CONCORD, NH – A little more than a month after announcing he was taking a leave of absence from his role as state National Education Association president for health reasons, Sen. Scott McGilvray has passed away. He was 51.

⇒Related: Click here for obituary, arrangements and to leave a message or read tributes on the Phaneuf Funeral Home guestbook.

An announcement was posted March 22 on the NEA-NH website by Megan Tuttle, former Vice President, and now acting NEA-New Hampshire President:

“NEA-New Hampshire is deeply saddened today by the passing of our President and friend Scott McGilvray. Scott made the lives of countless others better as a teacher, coach, mentor, friend and leader and he will be greatly missed. He was a tireless advocate for students and educators across the state, dedicating his life fighting to assure every child had the opportunity to succeed. Scott McGilvray made New Hampshire a better place for children.”

On Feb. 16 McGilvray took leave of his position with NEA, saying it had “become necessary to prioritize my health over my job for the time being, but my first priority will always be to serve the people of Senate District 16.” No details were given about the nature of his health situation, as the newly sworn Democratic senator asked for privacy for himself and his family.

Fellow senator Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, says he spoke to McGilvray’s nurse at Mass General Hospital as recently as Tuesday afternoon, where McGilvray was a patient.

“He was in bad shape. In fact, when I saw in in the Senate last Thursday I told him we have to get you to Boston, because it was clear that he was in bad shape – renal failure as I understand it. He had a liver problem, and that was his demise,” says D’Allesandro. Just a terrible thing.” 

D’Allesandro says aside from their political congruency, he and McGilvray had parallel lives – both were educators and coaches turned lawmakers.

“Scott was a super nice guy, a good teacher, coach, a good human being, and friend. You know, we want young people to get into politics and be part of the process, and I had high hopes for Scott as he moved forward in politics, but that’s all over now,” D’Allesandro said.

Although he said he did not have a lot of details, he knew that McGilvray had suffered a series of medical setbacks over the past several months.

Word of McGilvray’s passing was noted during the Wednesday morning Chamber of Commerce annual State of the City Address. Mayor Ted Gatsas later issued the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that Manchester mourns the loss of the Senator Scott McGilvray.  The city and our entire educational community have lost an exceptional public servant in Senator McGilvray. He will be remembered for his profound impact on our students both in the classroom and on the football field.  As the President of the Manchester Education Association he worked tirelessly to bring people together to expand educational opportunities here in Manchester for our students and our educators.  On behalf of the membership of the Manchester Board of School Committee and Board of Mayor and Aldermen I extend our deepest condolences to the entire McGilvray family.”

NH Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley also issued a statement Wednesday morning:

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing. Senator McGilvray will be remembered for his deep dedication to education and for the young people and educators whose lives he has impacted so greatly over his 25 years as a social studies teacher and a football coach. He spent his last months serving his state and fighting for the people of New Hampshire and for that we are endlessly grateful. He will be dearly missed,” said Buckley.

NEA-NH President Scott McGilvray, center, with Executive Director Rick Trombly right, and Executive Board Member Pam Potter, left, talking with members during a 2013 NEA-NH event.

In November McGilvray was elected to represent Senate District 16, after many years as an educator and union representative. “Whether as a teacher or football coach, I worked to help students and players achieve their highest potential, and as a State Senator, I will work to do the same for our great State,” McGilvray said in a candidate profile.

McGilvray taught social studies at Manchester Memorial High School for more than 20 years and also served as the school’s head football coach. The news of his passing left Memorial Principal Arthur Adamakos nearly lost for words.

“He’s been gone from Memorial for about six years, and I’ll tell you, we’re all in shock,” Adamakos said Wednesday. “Last week we heard he was ill and being treated in Boston, today someone came in and told me he’d passed. Our heads are spinning.”

Adamakos described McGilvray as someone who developed a large following among his students, having been both an effective social studies teacher and coach.

“When he took over our football program, it was recovering from a string of disappointing seasons, Scott was the only coach in the last three decades to make the playoffs, so obviously his impact on football was very important to Memorial, both the students and parents,” Adamakos said.  

Stepping away from the classroom to enter into the politics of education was a difficult decision for McGilvray, but a right one, says Adamakos.

“Scott’s one of the old guard types. Once he became president of the union and saw the opportunity to impact education at the state level, we all applauded him for it. And when we  heard he was running for state senate, a number of us were excited for his candidacy. In this day and age, knowing where education is going, we knew he’d be an advocate for educators and schools and for kids,” said Adamakos. “I hope I’m making sense, because I can’t tell you how shocked I am, to be talking about him in the past tense.”

McGilvray was father of two grown children and lived in Hooksett with his wife, Patti.


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