Jan. 10, 2018 — Yesterday, Siuslaw High School (SHS) unveiled a permanent tribute intended to honor a past principal who positively affected generations of graduates.
The district dedicated the SHS “mall and commons area” to Richard Whitmore, a SHS biology instructor, school administrator and vice principal who ultimately served as principal for 19 years.
Overall, he was a member of the Siuslaw staff for more than 30 years, serving in the district from 1961 to 1992.
He was the type of person who cared about his students in a way that carried on after graduation. His legacy was always one of unconditional support for students of the district, according to Siuslaw School Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak.
“Mr. Whitmore was a long-time educator here in the Siuslaw School District. He served as both a teacher and an administrator. After his retirement, as a measure of the respect he held amongst both students and staff, the end of the year the awards for outstanding senior students were renamed in his honor,” Grzeskowiak said.
One of Whitmore’s former students, Gina Castro-Brandt, is currently an instructor at SHS. She has been involved in the process of obtaining the permission and the funding to complete the dedication project.
“This has been a Booster club project that we have been working on for quite a while,” she said.
District policy made it difficult to rename part of the facility, and then it took time to purchase plaques.
“I was vice president of the booster club at the inception of the project, and we received overwhelming community and alumni support through social media and written letters for the presentation,” Castro-Brandt said.
Whitmore’s wife, Barbara, was on hand for the unveiling of the plaque honoring her late husband. Whitmore passed away in 2012 at age 76.
The ceremony honoring Whitmore was held during a break from classes and there were hundreds of students in attendance.
A presentation discussed Whitmore’s contributions to the district, and Grzeskowiak commented on the lasting impressions the man made on the many students he touched over the years.
“In my time with the district, there is no one here that has ever had anything to say other than to relate the highest praise and respect for Richard Whitmore,” Grzeskowiak said. “He was a man of honor and integrity that valued education and deeply cared about the students and community of Florence.”