The passing of a great man should not go unnoticed. Ralph E. Ricardo Sr., former superintendent of Ascension Parish School System, was a visionary and a man ahead of his time. When he became superintendent in 1981, Ascension Parish schools were suffering economically and academically. It was his leadership that laid the foundation for what the Ascension Parish School System is today, one of the top school systems in the state. He was a financial leader and an educational leader. He had the vision to see what needed to be done, and the courage and integrity to carry it through. Many new programs were instituted during his tenure. Through his wise financial practices, a system that was greatly in debt when he became superintendent, ended up with a multimillion-dollar surplus.

Ricardo devoted his entire life to education in Ascension Parish and to the state of Louisiana. He began his career as a math and chemistry teacher at Lowery High School in Donaldsonville, and retired in 1993 as superintendent after 37 years of tireless dedication. He received several awards and honors, including a National Science Foundation Fellowship for graduate study and research in mathematics, and he had the distinction of serving as the first African-American school superintendent in the state of Louisiana.

After his retirement, Ricardo served as education consultant with the Louisiana School Boards Association and was executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Executives. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa Honor Society, Louisiana Association of School Executives, American Association of School Administrators and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Ralph Ricardo was one of the truly great men in education, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to his honesty, integrity and leadership. He was loved and respected by all of his employees and the community. He treated all of his employees with the utmost respect, from custodians to administrators.

Throughout his tenure he remained humble, no matter what accolades were bestowed upon him, yet was always willing to mentor and share his knowledge and expertise of educational and leadership practices and life experiences. It is truly an honor and a privilege to have worked for him, and I am grateful for his kindness, guidance and support to me, as well as to the many educators who echoed their support in my writing of this letter.

If there were more Ralph Ricardos, our world would be a better place. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Mr. Ricardo.

Regina L. Thomas

retired principal, Galvez Primary School, Ascension Parish

Baton Rouge