Harold “Dutch” Rader is a beloved figure, who is considered by many to be the second most important person in WA’s history after Daniel Webster Abercrombie. Abercrombie was the principal who built the historic campus and is responsible for creating the school’s culture, but Dutch’s influence was based not a record of specific accomplishments, but rather on his essential character. Dutch was a member of the faculty from 1929 until 1996, and over two thirds of the Twentieth Century, he wore many hats as teacher, college counselor, dormitory parent, and alumni representative. Dutch served under ten headmasters and in fact, he ran the school for one year. Board President Karl Briel asked him to remain as headmaster, but he declined.
It was his image that made him so beloved. He was small and trim, but was indifferent to clothes- anything used was fine. Most photographs show him with the pipe, which in his early days, he smoked in class. He had a deep, raspy voice, and spoke slowly, in quirky phrases. Well into his 90s, he still came to campus daily and was someone all of the students and faculty looked forward to greeting.
Stories are a big part of Dutch’s legend. He was ambidextrous, so when he taught math, he wrote on the blackboard starting with his left hand then switching the chalk to his right to finish the problem. An alumnus could walk onto campus for the first time in decades; Dutch knew his name and remembered much about him. With his wife Dorothy, he lived on campus until the demolition of Davis Hall in the 1960s. When the time came to move, he and Clarence Barthelman tossed a coin as to who would purchase a house. Dutch won and bought a two-family house on Worcester’s West side. The Barthelmans lived upstairs as tenants, so it was still a little like living in the dormitory. Early yearbooks refer to Dutch as the colonel as he was the advisor to the riding club, so he must have been tougher on the students in his early days. But another Academy legend Dee Rowe ’47 says that Dutch always addressed him as “My Darling Boy”. Dorothy taught music to a number of Worcester Academy students, so in her own way she was an important figure on campus as the Raders were like a second family to many of the boarders. The Raders also owned a home in Vermont and many Academy boys visited during vacation breaks. Each summer, many alumni visited and were always welcome.
Not long after Dutch Rader arrived at Worcester Academy the stock market crashed and the great Depression soon followed. Then it was World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, and the first war in Iraq. These were difficult times for the nation, and for Worcester Academy as the school’s survival was often in doubt. There were many conflicting voices about whether the school should stay in business or merge with other local schools. The fact that the Academy is doing well today is largely due to the hard work and sacrifice of many faculty members, administrators, and trustees over the years. They looked to Dutch for his friendship, and he helped them all get through the tough times.