Former PHS Principal Ralph Board dies

PARKERSBURG – Former Parkersburg High School principal and current RESA 5 executive director Ralph Board died Monday. He was 58.

Lambert-Tatman Funeral Home confirmed Board’s death with a death notice Monday afternoon. Funeral details are pending.

Unofficial reports indicate the cause of death was cardiac arrest, possibly caused by an airway obstruction.

Many of those who had worked with Board over the years expressed bewilderment at his sudden death.

Parkersburg High School Principal Pam Goots said Monday everyone was shocked by the news.

“The entire staff and student body at Parkersburg High School would like to extend our condolences to his family,” she said.

Goots said she worked with Board for seven years before taking the reins at Parkersburg High in 2011.

“I worked very closely with him. Ralph was wonderful to work with,” Goots said. “He was very nurturing toward me, very understanding and considerate, and a wonderful gentleman.”

Goots said that nurturing nature extended to his work with RESA 5, which provided support services and training for schools throughout Wood and surrounding counties.

“That position suited him well,” Goots said.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law said he was deeply saddened by the news.

“I enjoyed working with Mr. Board,” Law said. “He was an outstanding educator. He’d done a great job of running one of the largest, if not the largest, high schools in West Virginia.”

Law said Board also had worked well with Wood County Schools during his tenure as the executive director at RESA 5.

“I think a lot of people thought very highly of him, and we are very sad to hear that he has passed,” Law said. “Shocked and sad.”

Wood County Board of Education President Tim Yeater said he knew Board professionally and personally.

“Anytime you lose someone in the education community, it is a loss to everyone. Words can’t describe the loss to the system,” Yeater said. “But I knew Ralph personally, and he was a great individual. He was just a great person and he will definitely be missed.”

Former Wood County Schools Superintendent Bill Niday said he had known Board since the earliest stages of his career.

“Professionally I was an assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School when Ralph was a student teacher there in the 1980s,” said Niday, who also has been a principal at PHS. Board “was principal at PHS when I was superintendent, and I worked a lot with Ralph, particularly on the renovations at PHS.

“I’ve known Ralph as a friend and a colleague for quite a long time, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family,” Niday said. “Everyone thought a lot of Ralph and he is going to be missed.”

Niday said Board had recently become a grandfather and had taken to his new role.

“He was enjoying his grandson so much,” Niday said. “It’s just a tragedy.”

Board began working for Wood County Schools in 1984 and in 2003 became principal of PHS. A graduate of Parkersburg High, Board was the first alumni of Wood County Schools to take a principal’s position at his alma mater.

He stepped down as principal in July 2011 to become the executive director of RESA 5.

Prior to 1984, he served as the district executive for the Boy Scouts of America. Board earned a master’s from West Virginia University and an undergraduate degree from Glenville State College.