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Gary L. Lehring


Gary L. Lehring, beloved partner, brother, friend, colleague, and professor, died unexpectedly March 13, 2021, at the age of 59. Gary was born June 21, 1961, to Burnetta (Gardner) and Melvin Lehring in Louisville, Kentucky, where he grew up. He graduated from Durrett High School and the University of Louisville, and received a PhD in Political Science from UMass Amherst.


He taught at Wellesley College and Clark University before coming to Smith College in 1994, where he spent the rest of his career as Professor of Government and member of the Program on the Study of Women and Gender.


Gary studied, taught, and wrote about political theory, sexuality, gender, the politics of the US and of Costa Rica, and utopian movements. He was the author of Officially Gay: The Political Construction of Sexuality by the U.S. Military (Temple University Press, 2003), a book at the intersection of political theory and public policy. He also wrote many articles and newspaper pieces on Costa Rican and Central American politics, examining issues such as party politics, corruption, education, union politics, civil service, LGBTQ politics and abortion. Most recently, he was researching the Shakers. He taught political theory to countless students -- from Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes to courses on gender, sexuality, utopias, and science fiction. He was a dedicated teacher, committed to and beloved by his students. He directed Smith’s study abroad program in Mexico and took students on trips to study environmental issues in Costa Rica. He was a generous, delightful and energetic colleague.


Gary avidly pursued many varied interests. He became fluent in Spanish over many trips to Costa Rica, where he met his spouse, Rolando Garro, 17 years ago. He loved tennis. He formed the “Backhanded Complement” tennis team and was part of USTA New England Tennis Board and the Tennis Association in Western Massachusetts for many years. He loved college basketball and was a huge fan of the University of Kentucky team. He could build or fix most things. With Rolando, Gary built a beautiful garden at his Easthampton home and another at his Costa Rican house, both with spectacular fish ponds (whose inhabitants he loved to watch). He loved every single form of life but especially fish, the ocean, hummingbirds, frogs, monkeys, and flowers. He also loved cooking and baking, especially his Christmas cookies. Those were the best and he enjoyed sharing them with his friends. He was not afraid of trying any kind of food. He loved reading, traveling, Halloween, Christmas, Latin American cultures, and every single movie and TV series about zombies and the future. He could sing pieces from most musicals and quote dialogue from TV shows past and present. He always cared about others and always said, “life is too precious and we need to show love to others all the time.” At the time of his death, he was learning to play the guitar and piano, complementing his beautiful singing voice.


Gary is survived by his spouse, Rolando Garro; his father, Melvin Lehring; siblings, Gail Lehring Elliott and Bob Lehring; nieces Hannah and Abby Elliott, nephew Josh Lehring and many close friends. He was predeceased by his mother, Burnetta Lehring.


Boucher-O'Brien Funeral Home in Easthampton was entrusted with his cremation.

Memorial Service will be private. Contributions may be made to The Trevor Project, www.thetrevorproject.org.

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