On July 3, beloved former upper school English teacher Marc Hufnagl passed away at his home in Switzerland following a brave battle with prostate cancer. He had been living in Switzerland with his husband, Juerg, after his retirement in 2016. He was accompanied by Juerg, his sister, Jan, and his dog, Nico, at the time of his death. “We are heartbroken from the loss of our beloved Marc, but we know he will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who knew and loved him,” Jan said.
Hufnagl joined Harker in 2001 and taught English at the upper school for 15 years. An avid musician and songwriter, he released multiple albums of original music, and in 2014 performed a selection of his own songs for students. He was a big fan of Joni Mitchell, as evidenced by the poster of the cover art from her album, “Hejira,” that he had hanging in his classroom. After his diagnosis, he contacted upper school English teacher Charles Shuttleworth to request that it be shipped back to him, which Shuttleworth graciously did.
“He was a great, great person,” said Shuttleworth.
During his time at Harker, Hufnagl commuted to his job from Oakland each day, just one example of his remarkable dedication to teaching. “In one of my last conversations with him, he said that he felt great pride in being part of this institution and in seeing the students excel the way they do while at Harker and after Harker,” said Jennifer Gargano, assistant head of school for academic affairs. “Knowing that he even had a small part in the students’ success filled him with great pride.”
A Caring Bridge page has been set up for people to leave dedications, and several Harker alumni have posted remembrances of their former teacher. “As a former student, he filled my heart with love for a subject I never thought I could love,” said Edward Sheul ’16.
Sahana Narayanan ’16, who is studying at the New England Conservatory for her master’s in jazz voice, said, “In my formative years, you modeled a contemplative life of endless artistic and spiritual self-inquiry. Thank you for your kindness and time.”
Albert Chu ’14 remembered Hufnagl for “the patience, great encouragement and support you poured into all your students.”
Those wishing to make a donation in Hufnagl’s honor have been asked to support Cancer Support San Francisco Bay Area and the Swiss Cancer League. A celebration of Hufnagl’s life is planned for Oct. 15 at a Bay Area location that is yet to be announced. More details will be published as they become available.