Former East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member Darryl L. Robertson died of a heart attack Friday night at his Baton Rouge home, friends say.

He was 54.

Robertson, who served on the School Board from 2003 to 2010, was an attorney who served for many years as a public defender and more recently teaching legal studies classes at McKinley High School.

City Court Judge Tarvald Smith served with Robertson for many years on the School Board and was a longtime friend.

“(Robertson) was dedicated to his constituents and had love for the kids in the school system,” Smith said. “He went above and beyond, from mentoring, to supporting athletics events, you name it.”

Another longtime friend, former Metro Councilwoman Lorri Burgess, has been visiting with Robertson family since his death. They include Robertson’s mother, Beulah, a former elementary school principal in Clinton, and his brother, Eric.

Burgess said she and Robertson both served as legislative assistants to then state Rep. John Michael Guidry, who is now a judge on 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.

“Darryl is a true definition of a servant leader,“ Burgess said. “He probably gave me more to others than he gave to himself. He believed in the youth of this society.”

Burgess said Robinson was talking on the phone Friday night with a friend when he abruptly dropped the call. Concerned, the friend came to Robertson’s house and when he couldn’t get him to answer, he called for help, Burgess said.

A graduate of Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Robertson for years helped run the group Young Emerging Leaders of Louisiana, helping mentor young people.

“A lot of his students are now leaders themselves,” Burgess said.

Robertson’s time on the School Board coincided the final days of the school district's long-running desegregation case, which was settled in summer 2003 and finally ended in 2007 after 51 years in the courts. Robertson, who represented the Scotlandville area, became an outspoken critic of the state’s decision to take over several low-performing schools in north Baton Rouge and convert them into charter schools.

He sought a third term in 2010 but was defeated by Kenyetta Nelson-Smith. Despite his loss, Robertson remained active in local public schools.

Nelson-Smith said the two had planned to meet on Saturday. They were talking about how best to prepare students there for a moot court competition in Washington, D.C. in April.

Burgess said many don’t know of another sideline of Robertson’s: “He was a closet speechwriter for a lot of people in this town.”

Visitation is scheduled at Richardson Funeral Home, 11816 Jackson St. in Clinton, on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 am., followed by a funeral service at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, 9700 Scenic Highway.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.