Tucked within a thicket of overgrown grass and fallen leaves is a small dirt path leading to an unsuspecting bench. It’s disguised by the busy traffic of the familiar dirt road leading to the lower field.
This bench overlooks the green of Deerfield. Kids going to and from the river, fans in the stands cheering for the Big Green, Choate days, and picnics before the sun sets on campus all lie below.
Gordie’s Outlook is more than a place to sit and admire the beauty, though. It’s also a reminder of Lynn Gordon (Gordie) Bailey Jr. ‘04, who passed away from alcohol poisoning while pledging a fraternity at the University of Colorado Boulder, only four months after graduating from Deerfield. A plaque sits on the ground beside the bench, listing Gordie’s date of birth and passing below lyrics from the Deerfield Evensong, “Deerfield Days are Days of Glory.”
Gordie excelled in many areas on campus, especially sports and the arts, including lacrosse, football, theatre, and music. Gordie received the “Class of 2004 Award for Excellence in Drama” and won the New England Championship with his football team. He served as a proctor and founded the Hug Club, which gave out hugs to people on campus upon request.
Gordie’s infectious spirit is his most enduring legacy on campus. English teacher Kimberly Wright said, “Gordie was one of the most genuinely kind students I have ever encountered…Gordie was special because despite his high- profile accomplishments on campus, to my knowledge, he never tried to make anyone feel inferior; he was just humble and friendly to all.”
The memorial was dedicated to Gordie in 2005. Over one hundred people, including parents, students, teachers, and alumni, attended the dedication ceremony to celebrate the life of Gordie as his legacy officially made a permanent mark on campus.
At Gordie’s memorial service, former theater teacher and Gordie’s advisor John Reese wrote, “I don’t believe I have ever known a student in my thirty-six years of teaching that had a sunnier disposition.”
In the acting department and on the field, Gordie embodied this “sunny disposition.” At Gordie’s Outlook, this warm spirit can be felt when the sun dips into the west and peeks through the trees, illuminating the monument. Anyone sitting at the monument can watch the afternoon bustle of practices and games on the lower fields.
Gordie wrote his senior meditation about his complicated relationship with football. He wrote, “I risk it all for my teammates because I know when it’s their turn, they’re going to risk it all for me. I trust my brothers and they trust me. With few exceptions such as war or medical emergency, I don’t think such trust exists in many other life situations.”
However, Gordie’s legacy was more than his outlook. In his name, the Gordie Memorial Fund was created at Deerfield for financial aid. The film Haze, a part of the Deerfield health curriculum, was made by the Gordie Foundation to educate students about the dangers of binge drinking.
Gordie’s memorial is a reminder to cherish the days at Deerfield, a reminder to everyone of what peer pressure in the world beyond campus can do to such a bright light.