See link for obituary.
Kindly share your memories of Mr. Figari. At a later date, we will share with his family.
Lauri L. White (Ramsey)
In high school, my participation in both Junior Achievement and Vocational Office Education set the trajectory for my career. It dawned on me that, after choosing the elective as an Office Aid, working in Mr. Figari’s office was my first internship in a career in administration.
I am the most unlikely of your classmates to have helped to coordinate reunions for 30 years, or refer to our principal as “my friend,” because I was more “the observer,” than fully present in high school. Even while his aid, I kept a healthy distance. When I finally gathered my courage to enter his office to advocate for a friend (with much encouragement from his secretary, Mrs. James, who promised that he wouldn’t bite), I was surprised by his sincerity and compassion.
I realize that we may have been on the same campus, had the same teachers, classmates, and principals – and that our perspectives are unique, but I had the advantage to observe our principal daily. I found him to have unwavering integrity, strong ethics, joy in family & career, fiercely protective of students & staff, pleasure & confidence in his staff, “giddy” for hot, fresh donuts, a contagious laugh & wonderful sense of humor, and tremendous compassion for others. Mr. Figari was an amazing man. I can honestly say, with absolute confidence, that our principal loved us as if were his own children. His legacies are all of us, and our successes. Our principal, and his amazing staff at Westchester, got us started off in the right direction for our future with their investment in all of us.
Fast forward to 1997 – our 20th class reunion. By this point, Mr. Figari has had thousands of “kids,” but immediately recognized me when we met eyes from across The Houstonian ballroom. We ran together for a long bear hug, like one of those old Kodak commercials! When it came time for our group photo, Mr. Figari came to stand beside me. This gigantic-hearted man made his former student feel…so special. I suspect he did the same for many of you reading this. Although he was never “Dave” to me, he became my friend at that particular event – and after, as he was able, he cheerfully attended every Westchester gathering.
Our 40th class reunion rolled around in 2017. And so did Hurricane Harvey…
Mr. Figari and I spoke by phone and he wasn’t certain that he would be healthy enough to attend the reunion. Although it clearly took everything in him to attend, he surprised me! I directed Mr. & Mrs. Figari to the professional photographer to have their portrait made, and Mr. Figari called me over to be included in a picture with them as well. Again, how special they made me feel. When it came time to take the group picture, I wanted him to sit right next to me, just as he had been 20 years prior.
Mrs. Figari discretely gave me a little pink-tissue-wrapped treasure, while Mr. Figari looked away in tears… With all sincerity, Mrs. Figari told me that Westchester had been her husband’s “Camelot” ~ the very best days of his career. In the tissue, he had given me his own Westchester paperweight. Guess who is crying now?
It has been an incredible blessing to assist in planning reunions – to facilitate the opportunity for my classmates to reconnect and, in some cases, make peace with their past or with old friends -- and, for me, to no longer be “an observer,” but to enjoy new friendships with my classmates. It was completely amazing, and the greatest reward, to have my principal, his wife and our teachers attend, and consider them my friends as well.
When I take the paperweight in my hands, I will always treasure the memory of my principal and friend.
Apart from “likes & comments” on Facebook, I had not reached out to Mr. Figari in quite some time. I had a lot of "life" going on myself. But, God put Mr. Figari on my heart so strongly on June 3rd. I’m thankful for that "God-nudge" because I had the opportunity to tell him again how much I respected him and loved both he & Mrs. Figari. If there is anything at all positive about this “season of COVID-19,” it is to realign our priorities, draw nearer to God, and to love one another a little better.
I will miss Mr. Figari so very much. He had a strong faith in the Lord and lived his life for him. I am grateful that this isn’t the end of his story. I look forward to a bear hug again one day.
With respect, love & appreciation,
Lauri (White) Ramsey
William S. Woike
Thanks for sharing Lauri.
Regretfully, I never made an effort to know Mr. Figari during high school. From my flawed point of view the role of a Principal was primarily to enforce discipline and administer punishment, not realizing all of the other responsibilities that come with the job. Therefore, early in our freshman year I determined that I would avoid him by staying out of trouble and as you stated so well, being an observer.
In retrospect, by not accomplishing anything extraordinary (either positive or negative) the plan worked for four years. Unfortunately, my only direct encounter with Mr. Figari was shaking his hand while receiving my diploma at graduation.
Over the past few days I have read some wonderful things about him online, my favorite being that he had a relationship with the Lord. All of us who have squandered or otherwise ruined relationships will have an opportunity for restoration at the ultimate reunion.
Blessings to all,
Philip R. Klein
There are a few times in life where there are no words. This is one. Beautiful. Dave Figari left an impression in many of our lives. I wish then, we know now, of what he was teaching us. We would all be better people. Love to the Figari family. Thank you so much for sharing him with us!
Thomas "Tom" R. Hutcheson