Services Sunday for longtime BHS Principal Roach

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

>Former Brookhaven High School Principal William Lester Roachpassed away at his residence this morning. He was 95.

He was born on August 29, 1911.

Visitation will be held at Brookhaven Funeral Home on NorthJackson Street on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 3 until 7 p.m. The funeralservice will be held at First Baptist Church of Brookhaven onSunday at 2 p.m.

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Roach was a well-respected educator and administrator, saidformer Brookhaven School District Superintendent GeorgeBrumfield.

“He had a lot in laying the foundation for Brookhaven High asthe top school in the state,” Brumfield said of Roach. “He wasrevered by his peers as running a fine high school.”

Roach was instrumental in bringing Brumfield to the area as acounselor at the beginning of his career.

“He decided to make an administrator out of me,” Brumfield said”I learned a lot from him.”

Brumfield said Roach was always willing to lend a hand or an earwhen he had questions.

Roach was principal of Brookhaven High School for 33 years. Assuch he did more than anyone else to shape the character ofBHS.

During his tenure – from 1946 to 1979 – 3,738 students graduatedfrom Brookhaven High School. Throughout that time he was totallycommitted to education in its broadest sense – knowledge,relationships, respect, goals, personal and group discipline.

Current BHS Principal Susan Chapman said there are stillpolicies in place that Roach implemented.

“He was a good school man and all business,” Chapman said.

Roach graduated from Ashland High School and later received hisBachelor of Science degree at George Peabody College for Teachersin Nashville, Tenn. Peabody has now merged with VanderbiltUniversity.

He received a Master of Science degree at Mississippi StateUniversity and a Master of Education degree at the University ofMississippi. He completed additional graduate work at theUniversity of Texas and at Mississippi State University.

Roach began his teaching career at Egypt High School in 1937where he served as a teacher and a coach. In 1938 he went toNoxapter High School for three years where he was also a teacherand coach. His first job as principal was at Carthage ElementarySchool from 1941 until 1942. He was principal at Columbia GrammarSchool for four years immediately prior to coming to BrookhavenHigh School.

In dealing with teachers, Roach was a great administrator. Hegave the teachers the freedom to teach and was forever a source ofsupport in dealing with other groups and the teachers always knewthat he or she would be supported in any issue which arose withparents or students.

With the community, Roach was a pillar of strength as a firmleader of the school. The community seldom worried about BrookhavenHigh School; a large part of that was due directly to hisleadership.

In dealing with parents, fairness was the key. Roach was alwaysa caring principal who would be fair in all his dealings regardlessof the issues or problems.

The students always felt that “big brother is watching you.”Every morning students would hear him give the morningannouncements. However, Roach was also a good listener. He listenedto what students, teachers, administrators, board members andcommunity members said and then brought to bear his judgment andtraining on the problems he discovered.

Roach believed in balance in the students’ lives. In addition toa love of teaching and learning, he also loved athletics and thelessons students could learn through competition. To that end,Roach served as Secretary of the Mississippi District VII HighSchool Athletic Association for over 50 years.

Roach was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Young Roach. Heis survived by his daughter, Ruby Nan Midkiff and her husbandLouis; his son William Lester Roach Jr. and his wife, Deb; hisgrandsons Martin John Bostick, Les Roach and Brian Roach; and hisgreat-grandchildren Kiersten and Jonathan Roach.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be madeto the W. L. Roach Scholarship Fund, Brookhaven High School, 443 E.Monticello, Brookhaven, MS 39601.