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Ray Arnold was remembered as a warm, caring and efficient school administrator.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
After decades as a teacher and administrator, Ray Arnold retired, but that didn’t keep him from working with the Roanoke school system doing one of the most dizzying jobs of all: finding substitutes.
Before there was an automated system to round up substitute teachers, there was Arnold, who would rise at 4 a.m. and phone substitutes to line up teachers so classrooms wouldn’t be empty.
Arnold, 88, died Sept. 6.
“He knew who to call. Who liked to go to certain schools. He knew who to call and how to place people in the job. I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark,” his daughter Barbara Williams said, recalling a time her father had a medical emergency out of town and she had to fill in.
Williams described her father, whom she called Pop, as a quiet, humble and meticulous man. She said he worked for Roanoke City Public Schools even in retirement because he loved the people.
“He would tell me how much he enjoyed talking to them and keeping up with them. I think he just loved the school system and people he worked with and had known,” Williams said. “It was a way for him to keep in touch.”
Arnold started his career in education decades earlier. And after serving in World War II he spent a number of years in Wythe County. He taught and was later principal at Ivanhoe Elementary when Williams attended.
“From a child’s perspective it was a very warm, caring school,” she said. “Just what I remember from talking to teachers, when you get a little older, they all loved working for my dad.”
Williams said when her parents divorced he came to Roanoke where he was a teacher before later becoming principal at Forest Park Elementary School. He was principal there from 1977 to 1982 when he retired. For five years after that he worked to find substitute teachers.
“We always could depend on Ray Arnold to help us out,” said Doris Ennis, a longtime Roanoke teacher and administrator.
Ennis, who depended on Arnold to find her subs as principal, said he always went “beyond the call of duty.”
“When principals would call and ask him to send how many subs they were going to need for the next day, he would call those subs and have them at your school the next day,” she said. “It sounds like a drawn out process in this day of technology. When I think about technology is now and think about what he had to do, it’s hard for me to fathom.”
Ennis said she also knew Arnold as teacher. Arnold taught her son.
“He was a very caring, nurturing, dedicated teacher,” she said. “Viewing him as a parent I would never hesitate to have anyone’s children in his classroom.”
All the students knew Arnold, Ennis said.
“He was not an office person. He was always out there, visiting on the playground, bus duty, cafeteria duty,” she said, describing him as calm and fatherly.
His children said he was always a devoted father.
“All I can say is he came into my life when I was in my first year of college and became the father I never had,” Arnold’s stepson Jack Caddy said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better father.”
Arnold married Caddy’s mother Mildred Arnold.
“He took us in as if we were his own,” Caddy said. “We did the same with him.”
Outside of being a family man and educator, Arnold was also a devoted member of First Baptist Church in Roanoke. He and his late wife established and grew a singles ministry.
Caddy recalled the ministry had a handful of people and now it’s a large group with its own minister.
“For Pop and Mildred they were just like extended family,” Arnold’s daughter Williams said.
Williams said her father kept in touch with people from the ministry, some of whom went on to get married and have children. For her father those children were like his own grandchildren, she said. Even when he went into assisted living, Williams said, people from the ministry stayed in touch.
“There were cards,” she said. “There were constantly cards.”
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