Trustee emeritus Michael Andrew Loeb passes away


Zachary Kurtz, Staff Writer

“Mike was and will always be synonymous with the John Dorr Nature Laboratory,” Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly wrote in an email. “If he wasn’t so humble, it would be the Michael Loeb John Dorr Nature Laboratory.”

On Aug. 28th, 2021, Michael Andrew Loeb ‘46, a parent, grandparent, former trustee, and trustee emeritus (someone who has shown exemplary service as a trustee), passed away at the age of 92. Loeb was born on Nov. 25th, 1928 and was raised in New York City. His father, Milton B. Loeb, donated the Theresa H. Loeb library to the school in 1962 to honor his late wife, Michael’s mother.

While at the school, Loeb wrote for the HM Quarterly, a literary magazine on which he was an assistant editor, as well as for The Linguist, a journal about our changing language. Students voted him as “Done Most for Horace Mann” in the “Senior Opinions” section of the 1946 Mannikin. After high school, Loeb attended Columbia College and Harvard Business School.

Once he graduated from Harvard Business School in 1952, Loeb joined his father and brother in running the Brillo Manufacturing Corporation which manufactures steel wool soap pads, founded by his father in 1913. He remained at the company for 10 years, then entered the world of publishing.

Loeb started a publishing company called Grossman Publishers, famous for publishing the 1965 bestseller, Unsafe at any Speed by Ralph Nader. Viking Press later acquired the company. For the remainder of his life, he worked at Harry N. Abrams publishing company, where he held the position of  executive vice president.

The school instilled in Loeb a passion for reading and literature which he cultivated for the rest of his life, Zachary Malter ‘09, Loeb’s grandson, said. This foundation that the school gave him helped him major in English at Columbia and pursue a career in publishing.

According to his obituary published by The New York Times, Loeb had a passion for the outdoors and was an avid-nature lover. His love of nature began when he spent 10 summers as a camper at Camp Kennebec in Maine. Loeb later became deeply involved in the Sierra Club, the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States, ultimately serving as the chair of its foundation, according to the Times. He also worked with the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM-YWHA), where he was the Treasurer of the Berkshire Hills-Eisenberg Camp.

Loeb remained heavily involved with the school over the years, taking on numerous positions and serving as the longest trustee of the John Dorr Nature Laboratory Board. Loeb devoted much of his efforts to helping guide Dorr’s renovation for environmental sustainability, according to a 2010 article in Horace Mann Magazine titled “Horace Mann School Alumni: Sustaining the Earth.” Loeb and his wife Ann owned a home in Bethlehem, Connecticut near Dorr. Over the years, they donated approximately 120 acres from their own adjacent property to expand the Connecticut campus, their most recent donation being the land on which Dorr’s entrance road sits. Loeb also initially convinced John Dorr to donate his land.

The school would not have Dorr if not for Michael Loeb, Kelly wrote. “He believed firmly that there was much to be learned through one’s connection with the outdoors.”

“Mike and Ann Loeb generously gave the school the land necessary to carve out a road not only for buses to safely gain access to Dorr, but also for the construction equipment to safely enter and exit the property,” Kelly wrote. This donation gave the school the property necessary to construct one of the faculty houses, he wrote. Loeb also allowed for the pond on his personal property to be used for sixth graders to construct rafts during orientation, Director of Dorr Nick DePreter said.

Loeb’s contributions to and relationship with Dorr exemplifies the behind-the-scenes work that he did for the school, DePreter said. Loeb was an exemplary and supportive alumnus, he said.

Kelly remembers surveying the property with former Director of Dorr Glenn Sherrat, Loeb, and another trustee on a wet spring day, when Loeb swiftly led the group through the woods and up and down ravines on the property. “Mike loved an adventure and he loved sharing it with others,” Kelly wrote. “And if that adventure could be outdoors, it was even better.”

Loeb had a hand in every new hire, building, program, and acre added to Dorr, and his involvement can be seen everywhere, Kelly wrote. “I can’t imagine a time when discussing the John Dorr Nature Laboratory that Mike’s name won’t come up, either in a story or in its founding or in a programmatic enhancement,” he wrote.

Loeb will leave behind a lasting legacy of compassion and inclusiveness in all aspects of his life, including at the school, Kelly wrote. Loeb influenced the school’s push for both a robust and effective financial aid program as well as the enrollment of diverse students, he wrote.

As a dedicated trustee, Loeb was giving, kind, generous, selfless, gregarious without being overly domineering, and just all around a lovely person, Director of Admissions Jason Caldwell ‘97 said. Loeb’s actions have impacted everyone currently at the school, Caldwell said. “He cared so much about Horace Mann and through his efforts to school at large, and also through his efforts with Dorr, the landscape of the school really changed.” 

Loeb is the perfect example of someone who truly loved the work that he did and was always excited to work with the school, Caldwell said. “For him, it wasn’t ‘oh I have to do this,’ or ‘oh I gotta do it,’ or ‘oh I should make an appearance at this,’” he said. “He did it because he loved it.” 

Loeb continued to stay involved with the school community by hosting regular lunch meetings with his friends from the school over the past 10 years. Dr. Jack Richard ‘46 attended the school with Loeb but got to know him better over these lunches, he said. “I would describe Mike as the type of a person who is a leader of people without declaring himself,” Richard said. “You would not know about his leadership abilities in terms of casually meeting him. He is not one of these people who broadcasts their own abilities.”

Bringing together his classmates from the school, at least annually, was special to Loeb, Malter said. “He was extremely engaged with the Horace Mann community, and was a community builder, and brought people together,” Malter said. “[He worked] towards making the school a better place my whole life, and that is a testament to how committed he was to the things that he cares about and the people he cares about.”

Michael Loeb will always be remembered for his kind and thoughtful nature, Kelly wrote. “Hands down, Mike remains one of the most thoughtful and affable human beings I’ve ever met,” Kelly wrote. “I never saw him pass up an opportunity to speak with someone, and he had an uncanny ability to see the good in everyone. He was one of the good eggs.”