Educator's untimely passing brings chance to say thanks

Our community owes a debt of gratitude to educator Randy Wall, who died this week at age 59.

For 21 years he touched many lives, families and institutions in Beaufort County in ways that may not yet be visible. We can see the number of teachers and assistant principals who worked under him at Lady's Island and Beaufort middle schools who are now in leadership positions. But it may be generations before we see the full impact educators have on the students at those schools and others he led, including Hilton Head Island Middle School and Beaufort Academy.

Wall was exceptional at what he did. But his passing offers an opportunity to shine a light on all our educators, in public and private schools, who day in and day out excel with little praise or appreciation from the community at large.

Wall died of complications following treatment for leukemia. His illness was brief. The strong following of educators who feel indebted to him knew Tuesday that his death was imminent. In an uncanny coincidence, a teacher who worked under Wall was about to toss some old stuff when she spotted some Beaufort Middle School yearbooks. With a heavy heart, she began leafing through them and found a tribute to Wall.

The full-page statement from the student body reads:

"In this inaugural year for Beaufort Middle School, we dedicate this premier yearbook to the No. 1 principal in Beaufort County, Dr. Randy Wall.

"And just what does our principal do, you may ask?

"He attends meetings, assigns classes, signs purchase orders, returns phone calls, monitors lunches, cheers athletes, represents BMS, supervises faculty, autographs certificates, conferences parents, hires staff, creates schedules, greets guests, gives presentations, approves budgets, applauds students, makes announcements, makes jokes and makes decisions.

"And yet for Dr. Wall, this position is far more than a sum of its parts. He adds to it his own sense of integrity, calm, charisma, energy, strong leadership, extraordinary vision and seemingly even a touch of a magic. He possesses an uncanny ability to inspire those around him -- students, parents, faculty and friends -- to see the best of all possible worlds and to make good choices. He challenges them all to think, believe, dream, and ultimately to dare."

Godspeed, Dr. Wall.