T. Christopher Pettit will always be remembered as one of Huntington High School’s most exceptional scholars, leaders and athletes.
A member of the Class of 1963, Mr. Pettit captained three varsity Blue Devil teams and went on to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a two-time All-American lacrosse player and the team’s captain and leading scorer.
Born in Huntington Hospital on February 18, 1945, Mr. Pettit enjoyed a remarkable career at Huntington High School, serving as captain of the football, basketball and lacrosse teams and being elected G.O. president by the student body. He addressed classmates as the “honor speaker” at the 102nd annual commencement on June 25, 1963 at 8:15 p.m. in the school auditorium.
“Things do not happen in this world; they are brought about by people who are concerned and who become involved,” Mr. Pettit said during his commencement address. “I know that we can have the courage to affirm life by our involvement in living.”
Accepted into Harvard, Mr. Pettit instead chose West Point and following his graduation from that hallowed institution, became a battery commander on a missile base in what was then West Germany. He also served in combat as an Army Ranger in the Vietnam War, earning two Bronze Stars and moving up in the ranks to captain.
Following his military career, the Huntington alum taught math for two years and coached football and then was in business for four years before joining Lehman Brothers in 1977. He quickly climbed through the commercial paper and bond divisions. Mr. Pettit was named a partner in 1982 and eventually became the legendary Wall Street firm’s president and chief operating officer. He left the company on November 26, 1996.
Mr. Pettit was killed while snowmobiling at night on a frozen lake near his vacation home in Windham, Maine on February 15, 1997. He reportedly hit a stump and his helmet dislodged as he was thrown from the fast moving vehicle. He sustained a massive head injury and passed away while being rushed to a nearby hospital. The Huntington grad was 51 years old. He is interred in St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.
In the weeks and months that followed the tragedy, Mr. Pettit’s family created a scholarship that currently provides more than $15,000 annually to Huntington High School graduates .
Mr. Pettit’s daughter, Lara Pettit Breingan was on hand for this year’s scholarship ceremony, which was held in the Huntington High School auditorium. Her voice was filled with emotion and broke several times as she spoke about her dad. Her eyes welled up in tears, but she somehow managed to get through the presentation. She spoke about how much her father loved his family and the Huntington community.
Valerie Rogel (Columbia University) garnered an $8,000 scholarship award, payable in annual installments of $2,000 in each of the next four years. Jack Krisch (University of Massachusetts Amherst) captured a one-time $4,000 award. Aidan Bonn (Fairleigh Dickinson University, Jordan Forte (Stony Brook University) and Charlotte Maggio (North Carolina State University) were recipients of one-time $1,500 awards.
Ms. Rogel joked that the key to her success “has been eating cucumber slices every day during fourth period.” But all kidding aside, she has been a great student and athlete at Huntington. The teenager has won awards in the National History Day contest, completed internships at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and even completed five half-marathons. (A half-marathon covers more than 13 miles.) She is interested in studying public health and statistics at Columbia University.
Mr. Krisch plans to play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he intends to study mechanical engineering. The teenager has excelled academically and thoroughly enjoyed the social and athletic sides of high school, including the homecoming bonfire, National Honor Society, student government and many happy afternoons with the Blue Devil lacrosse team.
Mr. Bonn intends to play lacrosse at Fairleigh Dickinson while pursuing a degree in marketing. He likes to lead a balanced life, giving his academic responsibilities the attention they deserve, but never neglecting the other aspects of his life. Volunteering with Huntington’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and traveling with the group to a build in New Orleans was one of the most rewarding experiences of his high school years.
Ms. Forte is one of the most dynamic women in Huntington’s Class of 2021. She said that taking pride in every test and assignment she submitted is the basis of her success. She was a three sport star for the Blue Devils and has been recruited to play lacrosse at Stony Brook University
Ms. Maggio also starred in three different sports throughout high school. She said that working hard and maintaining her focus has been the key to her success. Relationships are import to the teenager and she developed many rewarding ones while playing on the Blue Devil soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. She plans to study biology on a pre-med track at North Carolina State.
In addition to being a leading figure in the world of international finance, Mr. Pettit found time to coach youth lacrosse, soccer and basketball. He was one of the founders of the Cold Spring Harbor-Huntington Youth Lacrosse Club. The former Blue Devil star and Army great was inducted into the Long Island Metro Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1994.
Mr. Pettit was also a key contributor to cancer research. He was among those who helped organize the Dorothy Rodbell Cohen Foundation for Sarcoma Research, which has provided millions of dollars in grants over the years.
Huntington seniors prize the Pettit scholarship, which honors a man who will never be forgotten for excellence at the high school.