Students at Beaufort Academy often met their headmaster, Randy Wall, by the curb each day before school.
"Every morning, when parents would drop off, he was there, whether it was rain or shine," said Herb Gray, president of the academy's board of trustees. "We have a small school, but still, he knew everyone personally."
Wall, 59, died Tuesday night after being diagnosed with a form of leukemia late in the school year.
"It is a huge loss to Beaufort County," said Valerie Truesdale, superintendent of the Beaufort County School District.
Friends and former colleagues asked to describe Wall use adjective after adjective, but sometimes only after choking back tears.
"Randy was a fine man and a great educator," said Herman Gaither, former district superintendent.
Current district staff speak of what Wall taught them and how he helped them to get where they are today.
"When I began working for Randy, I was a classroom teacher," said Beaufort Middle School principal Carole Ingram. "He was an incredible mentor to me, as well as a friend."
Wall taught in Chattanooga, Tenn., before coming to the Lowcountry in 1990.
He served as principal of Lady's Island and Beaufort middle schools, and later as an academic improvement officer for the district. Wall created the former Humanities School of Beaufort and helped lead an effort in the 1990s that put laptop computers into the hands of thousands of middle school students.
When the private Beaufort Academy began searching for a new headmaster in 2009, its board was drawn to Wall's deep local experience and desire to stay engaged in the classroom.
"Really, we felt that we hit a home run with Randy," Gray said.
After Wall's diagnosis several weeks ago, former colleagues kept in touch to exchange news about his condition.
However, Wall was unable to return for last week's graduation as he had hoped, and his condition worsened this past weekend, according to friends and colleagues.
Though the man -- the educator -- is now gone, school staff and officials say Wall's influence will last.
"He has touched thousands of lives, both in terms of students, teachers, administrators," said Margaret Rushton, the district's fine arts coordinator. "His legacy will live on in our hearts and in our work."
Wall is survived by his wife, Naomi, two children and two step-children. Details of funeral arrangements will be released later by Anderson Funeral Home.
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/eyeonbeaufortco.