South Principal Tom Eschbacher dead at 51

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg South High School Principal Tom Eschbacher has died. He was 51.

Wood County Schools Superintendent John Flint said Eschbacher passed away early Friday morning at Camden Clark Medical Center’s Memorial Campus from complications related to a recent illness. He would have turned 52 on July 24.

Eschbacher served Wood County Schools for 30 years, the last 13 as principal at Parkersburg South.

A memorial service to celebrate the Eschbacher’s life will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Parkersburg South High School auditorium, Flint said. The service is open to the public.

Arrangements were pending at Leavitt Funeral Home in Parkersburg on Friday evening, officials said.

“Speaking as superintendent and a friend of Tom’s, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Eschbacher family,” Flint said. “I think the loss is threefold. First off, I lost a close friend and colleague. Second, Parkersburg South lost someone who really loved Parkersburg South and its students. He was an outstanding leader in his role as principal. Thirdly, Wood County Schools has lost a dedicated administrator and an excellent educator.”

Eschbacher served as principal at Blennerhassett Junior High School for several years, said former PSHS assistant principal Tim McCartney.

“He was a super guy, a true leader. He had all the qualities that you look for in a good leader and he has left a huge void,” McCartney said.

Eschbacher was a good friend to McCartney, and truly cared about the kids at his school and about his position, McCartney said.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell got to know Eschbacher when Newell was serving as chief of police and a prevention resource officer was assigned to Parkersburg South for the first time.

“He’s very professional and very easy to work with. He’s one of the better administrators the county’s had in these high schools,” Newell said Friday. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Before every PSHS home game, Eschbacher would throw a tailgate party for the faculty, along with their friends and family, said former PSHS spirit leader and teacher Larry “Mad Max” Maxwell. In fact, Eschbacher was present at most social functions the school held, Maxwell said.

“When we would have games against Parkersburg High, he would always host a chili dinner and invite the PHS staff to enjoy it with us,” Maxwell said.

The fact that Eschbacher’s door was always open stood out in Maxwell’s mind.

“He wasn’t like other principals, you would see him out in the hallways and he knew a lot of the kids by name. He would come into classes and watch and was all over the school,” Maxwell said.

Eschbacher was also known for doing the little things to let people know they were appreciated, Maxwell said.

“Back when we only had one car, on rainy mornings when I was walking up to the school, he would always stop to pick me up and give me a ride,” Maxwell said.