Gary DiLallo, a longtime Capital Region educator who served on the Shenendehowa school board since 2001, died Saturday due to complications from cancer, according to a family obituary.
DiLallo grew up in Schenectady and graduated from Linton High School. He taught social studies and computer technology to middle and high school students in the Mechanicville school district for 28 years. DiLallo also coached football, track and swimming and served as president of the Mechanicville Teachers Association for five years.
“Gary devoted most of his adult life to the education of others, both inside and outside of the classroom,” according to the obituary.
DiLallo was first elected to the Shenendehowa school board in 2001, after his retirement as a teacher, and he was subsequently elected to seven terms on the board, including a current term that would have expired in 2022. He and his wife, Carol Millard DiLallo, had three kids graduate from the district.
Shenendehowa Superintendent Oliver Robinson in a statement posted to the district website called DiLallo a “staunch advocate for public schools” who inspired countless students and educators. Robinson highlighted DiLallo’s leadership on major renovation and construction projects in the district and his statewide advocacy efforts. He also recalled the support DiLallo gave him as a new superintendent in the district.
“I keenly recall when asked why Shenendehowa would hire a young, black man for the position, he simply and profoundly said, ‘Because he is the right man for the job,'” Robinson said of DiLallo. “For more than 15 years I have appreciated his unwavering support and wise counsel.”
DiLallo served two terms as board president and was also active in the New York State School Boards Association, advocating for changes to state and federal education policies.
When he ran for his latest term on the board, DiLallo noted the other short-tenured board members and highlighted the important role he could play helping newer board members familiarize themselves with the many complex parts of the position.
“Serving on the school board involves much more than meets the eye,” he told the Daily Gazette in a 2019 interview. “Virtually everyone is surprised by what they need to learn to serve effectively.”
He also focused on the differing needs of students and sacred responsibility educators have in supporting individual student needs.
“We as the adults must remain mindful that each child is unique and deserves to be recognized and treated as unique,” he said. “We must remember that school is about the children, not the adults. Each student should have every chance to live a worthwhile and meaningful life and it is our obligation that they have the opportunity to live life to the fullest.”
No immediate services were scheduled but the family anticipated a celebration of his life sometime next summer. The school board will discuss the process for filling the now-vacant board seat at its Dec. 15 meeting, according to Robinson’s statement.