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Student and teacher reunite

Parkville man thanks mentor who made positive impact on his life

Created date

December 13th, 2016
Musician Gary Waugh (left) and his Parkville High School teacher, Oak Crest resident Bill Metzger, were reunited after 44 years.

Musician Gary Waugh (left) and his Parkville High School teacher, Oak Crest resident Bill Metzger, were reunited after 44 years.

Most of us can recall a favorite teacher who affected our lives in a positive way. Someone we credit with helping mold us into the person we are today. For Gary Waugh, that person was Bill Metzger, his twelfth grade social studies teacher. 

“Mr. Metzger was a huge mentor of mine,” says Gary, now 62. “He really encouraged me to come out of my shell and be me. I’ve wanted to thank him for that for the last 40-plus years.”

Gary had the opportunity to do just that, thanks to a chance encounter at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community where his mother Jean lives. This spring, Gary and his wife Marianne, a guitar and percussion duo known as Venus and Mars, were invited to perform at the Parkville, Md., Erickson Living community. 

Waugh has enjoyed a longstanding career as a professional musician playing clubs up and down the east coast. Two years ago, he and Marianne formed Venus and Mars to raise money for VISEDAL, a 510(c) (3) nonprofit organization started by their son Dylan to help educate, clothe, and feed kids in Nicaragua. 

“We had such a blast playing at Oak Crest,” says Gary. “We played the ’60s and ’70s music I love and grew up with, and the crowd had fun singing along. It was like playing to a room full of friends.” 

Unbeknownst to Gary, among those friends was his high school mentor Bill Metzger. Bill and his wife Gen moved to Oak Crest in 2012 and helped organize Acorn After Dark, a community-wide event that encourages residents to come together two evenings a month to relax and socialize at the community’s Acorn Pub—the same place Venus and Mars performed. 

At the end of the show, Gary says Bill approached him about doing an article for the community’s newspaper about him, his mom Jean, and the charity his son Dylan started.   

“He introduced himself as Bill Metzger, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a coincidence, I had a teacher in high school named Mr. Metzger,’” says Gary.

One and the same

Incidentally, after teaching at Parkville High School, Gary’s alma mater, Bill went to Germany where he taught for the Department of Defense. After five years abroad, he returned to Maryland and taught journalism at Eastern Technical High School. In 2002, he retired from the Baltimore County Public School system and spent 12 more years teaching at Johns Hopkins University.   

It wasn’t until the interview at Oak Crest that Gary discovered the two Metzgers were one and the same.

“The first question I asked him was where he went to high school,” says Bill. “When he told me he graduated from Parkville High in 1972, I said, ‘I taught at Parkville High during that time.’” 

At that point, it was clear, at least to Gary, just who Bill was.

“I said, ‘Oh, you are that Mr. Metzger!’” says Gary. “I couldn’t believe it!”  

Bill’s recollection wasn’t quite as clear, until he received an email from Gary with a picture of his high school yearbook and a handwritten note next to Bill’s photo that read: “Gary, you have become my most photographed student, from the back, side, front, etc., on swings, merry-go-rounds, or just in the room. You will be difficult to forget! I wish you every best wish for a successful future! Improve those essays!”

 “After I saw the note, it was like a bolt out of the blue and it suddenly became very real to me. I remembered exactly who he was,” says Bill. 

In that same email, Gary took the opportunity to thank Bill. 

“Thank you again,” wrote Gary. “Not just for yesterday and the article, but for being so supportive of me at a time when I really needed it. In life, sometimes we are lucky enough to have mentors. Those mentors may not even know what they did. You were that for me, and I’m happy I had the chance to tell you thank you.” 

Bill finished his article, which ran this September. On September 21, Gary and Marianne’s thirty-sixth wedding anniversary, Venus and Mars performed again at the Acorn Pub, this time with Bill, Gen, and three generations of Waughs (his mom, son, and granddaughter) in the audience. 

During the performance, Oak Crest community members raised enough money to sponsor one Nicaraguan youth for an entire year.   

“To have [Bill] as a friend now is so neat,” says Gary. “I feel like I still want to call him Mr. Metzger.”