Rusty Magee, a beloved member of the Manhattan New School family, died last Sunday, the 16th of February, after battling cancer for several years. He was 47 years old.

During his years as an MNS parent, Rusty could be counted on to reduce perfectly respectable adults to helpless laughter, and incite children to antic shenanigans, perhaps because he seemed hardly a grownup himself, always up to some mischief. Rusty was the father of Nat, who graduated in 2001; and while Nat was an MNS kid, there was never a day when Rusty wasn't doing something to make our school a funnier, more musical, more dazzling place.

The man was a natural comedian, a truly gifted musician, and that's how he made his living, as an actor and composer, a standup comic and caberet performer. His professional accomplishments include writing and performing the music for Frank McCourt's "The Irish and How They Got That Way," a part in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," and a NY Outer Critics Circle Award. The list is long and impressive.

For us, though, he was Rusty, the man who looked good in any number of wigs. The man who let kids spray paint his head at the Fest With Zest. The guy who made up silly songs about principal Shelley Harwayne and got away with it, like this one, sung to the tune of Streisand's "People (Who Need People)" :

Shelley...nothing rhymes with Shelley...except smelly....

and a rousing "fight song" for MNS with lyrics as follows:

Manhattan New School/is such a cool school/ P.S. Two-Nine-Oh is the place to Go! Go! Go!

When you hear it, you too, will be convinced that the song needs resurrecting immediately.

Rusty performed at many of our Almost-All-In the-Family benefit concerts, along with his wife, Alison. He was our first and funniest auctioneer. Bidders were choking with laughter and wiping away tears as they waved their paddles.

Rusty taught music and chorus to gangs of unruly fourth graders, whom he said nearly reduced HIM to tears. He played the piano at many of our graduations, reducing everyone to tears. Which is pretty much the state we're all in now, missing him.

Several parents are talking about ways to honor Rusty, which may include a music scholarship in his name, a contribution to his comedy troupe, Moonwork, or to the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey, which was dear to his heart. Please visit Rusty's website, to post a reminiscence or an anecdote or messages for Nat and Alison.