Retirements Announced, Long-term Service Honored

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Retiring Faculty/Staff and Long-term ServiceMercersburg Academy is pleased to recognize two faculty members and five staff members who have announced their retirements during the 2021-2022 academic year. The group is comprised of faculty members Tom Thorne P ’06, ’07 (who is retiring after 29 years of service) and Wells Gray (23 years), as well as staff members Bill Hege (38 years), Avery Cook (36 years), Rick Buterbaugh (26 years), Sam Herman (19 years), and Mitzi Nonemaker P ’02 (18 years). 

This year, the school is also honoring three faculty and staff members who have reached 25 years of service to Mercersburg as of September 1, 2022: David Bell P ’17, ’18, Amy Hendrickson P ’03, ’06, ’19, and Bill Mann.

Tom Thorne, who is in his second tour of duty as head of Mercersburg’s classical and modern languages department, arrived at the school in 1993 to teach Latin. His excellence in teaching earned him the James M. Johnston Instructor’s Award for the 1996-1997 school year, and he has held the David F. Chapman Chair since 2001. Tom previously taught at Christ School in North Carolina, where he was head of the foreign languages department. He graduated from Dickinson College and the University of Florida. Tom spoke at Mercersburg’s 2008 Commencement exercises and the Academy’s Baccalaureate ceremony in 2013; he also serves as an adviser to the Karux yearbook. Tom and his wife, Barb (the school store supervisor and an assistant swimming coach), have served as dormitory deans in Culbertson House on campus. They are the parents of two Mercersburg graduates, Elissa Thorne Shashai ’06 and Julia Thorne ’07.

Wells Gray has been a member of the school’s arts department since 1999. He has served as department head and coached squash, football, and track & field; he was the school’s head girls’ squash coach for 16 years. Wells previously taught at Bennington College, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and the Kildonan School, as well as a number of different art centers across the country. He continues to create and exhibit ceramic vessels and sculpture. Wells earned a bachelor’s degree from Denison University and a master of fine arts from the University of Massachusetts. He and his wife, former staff member Willie Phillips-Gray, live in Main Hall on campus.

Bill Hege started at Mercersburg in 1984 as a member of the grounds crew. Over the years, he served the Academy by providing daily maintenance and working on a number of renovation and construction projects occurring on campus, and also helped maintain some of the school’s athletic facilities. Bill’s last day before retirement is April 22. He lives in Mercersburg.

Avery Cook began at Mercersburg in 1985, when he began helping cultivate the unmistakable beauty of Mercersburg’s campus as the school’s grounds maintenance supervisor. More than 300 acres of picturesque scenery, including a diverse array of plant species, were under his care until he retired from the Academy in September 2021. Avery studied landscape architecture at Purdue University; he and his wife, Pam, live in Mercersburg.

Rick Buterbaugh retired from Mercersburg after working as a carpenter in the school’s facilities department from 1995 until September 2021. His son, Chris, has served as a Mercersburg campus safety officer since 2017. Rick and his wife, Deb, live in McConnellsburg.

Sam Herman retired as a campus safety officer in August 2021, having served Mercersburg in that capacity since 2002. Sam and his wife, Kim, live in Chambersburg. 

Mitzi Nonemaker came to Mercersburg in 2003 with 27 years of accounting, payroll, and administrative experience. As a member of the Office of Human Resources, her responsibilities included recruiting functions, payroll processing, and benefits administration, as well as working with employees on policies and procedures. Mitzi and her husband, Dan, live in Waterfall, PA; they have two children, including Jessica Nonemaker Jennings ’02.

The Alumni Council will formally honor the seven retirees and the employees who have reached 25 years of service at a dinner which kicks off Reunion Weekend 2022 on Thursday, June 9.

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.