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Principal had house, family in area

December 18, 2012
By LEVI PASCHER , The Leader Herald

BROADALBIN - The principal who authorities said lost her life trying to overtake the gunman during the Newtown, Conn., tragedy had a house in Broadalbin and relatives in the area, including her mother.

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47, died Friday in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Hochsprung and her husband, George, would spend time at their vacation residence on Lakeview Road.

Article Photos

Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the principal who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had a vacation house and relatives in Fulton County.
AP/Newtown Bee

Keith Canary of Vail Mills is among those from the area who knew Hochsprung. He said he shares a mutual uncle with Hochsprung's mother, Cheryl Lafferty of Broadalbin, and considered the family to be friends and neighbors.

"My wife, Kelly, and I only really got acquainted with Dawn and George in the last year or so," Canary said. "We both had been in contact with her and George within the past month over some plans for this coming summer."

Canary on Monday talked about the family in an email to the newspaper.

"You could not ask for better folks. Last spring, Dawn and George as well as others from their family pitched in when it came time to put our dock in the water," Canary said. "I remember standing in the driveway at Dawn's mom's and Dawn complimenting me on our sons who were in the back seat of my truck. I actually spoke with George just a week ago, this past Saturday, there at the beach when two friends and I removed the dock. Who could have ever fathomed the horror that would unfold at the end of that same week?"

He said even though Dawn Hochsprung and her family lived


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in Connecticut, the family regularly visited Broadalbin.

"Early Saturday morning, as I got ready to leave for work, I had the TV on and Dawn's name was mentioned. It caught my attention. I immediately grabbed my cellphone to check the spelling of the last name in my contacts. I could not believe it was the same, then they showed a picture of her. Although the hairstyle was very different than her current appearance, I immediately recognized the beaming smile," he said. "These are the kinds of things that happen everywhere else or in movies - not so close to home."

Gerald Stomski, first selectman of Woodbury, Conn., where Hochsprung lived, said she was very likeable.

"She was an extremely charismatic principal while she was here," he said.

Hochsprung graduated from Naugatuck High School in 1983 and went on to receive her bachelor's degree in special education from Central Connecticut State University and her master's degree in education from Southern Connecticut State University.

She was enrolled at Russell Sage College in Troy, pursuing her Ph.D.

"She was vibrant, full of life and loved her school community - she was truly a caring administrator," Dean Quigley said on the Sage College website. "She had enrolled in the doctoral program because of her desire to expand her school leadership expertise."

She viewed her school as a model, telling the Newtown Bee in 2010 that "I don't think you could find a more positive place to bring students to every day."

She had worked to make Sandy Hook a place of safety, too, and in October, Hochsprung shared a picture of the school's evacuation drill with the message "safety first."

Hochsprung and her husband had two daughters, Cristina Lafferty Hassinger and Erica Lafferty.

Hochsprung was described in her obituary as a dedicated teacher who inspired her students to reach their fullest potential by instilling in them the importance of lifelong learning.

According to the obituary, she often credited her mother with instilling in her the importance of family.

Her family will have calling hours Wednesday in Connecticut. The burial will be private.

"I think anyone losing a loved one is hard enough, but adding the worldwide media attention to the loss this family has suffered is just unimaginable," Canary said. "I think everyone needs to be respectful of this family's privacy. We plan to let them know we are here to help them in any way we can."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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