Mrs. Leila B Grauert

Mrs. Leila B. Grauert
Devoted Supporter

The donor of Lt. Hans Grauert Memorial Rugby Field, Mrs. Leila Grauert was an exceptional and dedicated supporter of the FURFC during its early decades. She learned about rugby from her son, Chris Grauert, '68, who joined the Rugby Club his freshman year. She took an immediate, avid interest in the sport by learning from Chris about the traits of good sportsmanship, athleticism and camaraderie which rugby so wonderfully fosters.

Mrs. Grauert became a passionate fan and active booster of the FURFC, frequently flying from Rochester, NY to attend matches; she affectionally became known as Mama Grau by all the ruggers. Noticing the shoestring budget of the FURFC, she provided official Club Stationary to the FURFC when Chris was elected Club Secretary and new goalposts - replacing rusted, bent pipes - the following year. She took great delight in cheering on "her" ruggers from the sidelines during matches and at postgame functions.

On November 3, 1967, Dr. and Mrs. Grauert lost their son Hans, a Naval Aviator, at sea on a combat mission in the Vietnam War. Their grief was further deepened by the fact that there were no remains returned. To create a sense of closure, Mrs. Grauert wished to create a meaningful and appropriate memorial for Hans, and a new rugby pitch was the perfect solution. Although Hans never set foot on the Fairfield University campus, nor ever played rugby, he was a superb athlete, full of life, and a natural, energetic leader… traits that so typify a rugger. This fact, plus her vivid recollection of the shortcomings of Corbett Field, the FURFC home pitch complete with its unlevel ground and manhole covers, led Mrs. Grauert to donate the Lt. Hans H. Grauert Memorial Field to the University as a lasting monument to her son. She was thrilled by the new pitch, which she always called "God's Little Acre." The new field was dedicated at an unforgettable and emotional formal dedication on April 26, 1969, wonderfully staged by the FURFC President Bill Connolly, and fellow rugger Steve Carre.

Mrs. Grauert continued to keep in touch with the FURFC, most notably by writing heartfelt letters, read by Chris, to all the assembled ruggers at the every five year FURFC Reunions. She always referred to the FURFC as "her" ruggers her entire life, until she died in 2008. She always considered her decision to build Grauert Field as the finest and most heartwarming decision of her life.