The 1990-91 school year, Thomas Dubel's first and last complete one as principal of C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, was a professional challenge with a personal touch.
Mr. Dubel, who died unexpectedly Wednesday of heart failure, was leader of the largest high school in Harford County. But he also got to share the school year with his son, Tommy, then a senior at Wright.
Funeral services for the elder Mr. Dubel are scheduled for tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Bel Air United Methodist Church, 21 Linwood Ave.
"It was a growing and sharing experience for the both of them," Mr. Dubel's wife, Bonnie, said yesterday of the last school year. "As I look back, I realize what an incredible experience that was. He [Tommy] got to watch his dad in action."
Tommy, 18, Thomas Dubel's only child, is now a freshman at the University of Maryland College Park.
To colleagues, family members and others, Thomas Trenton Dubel Sr., 49, was a man of undying energy who cared deeply about his community, his work and his student body of 1,350.
"He was always up in the front lobby greeting kids every morning," said Christina Reynolds, an assistant principal at C. Milton Wright. "He really made them feel important. . . . He really hammered home the idea of mutual respect."
Ms. Reynolds remembers her boss as a man who liked the best of everything. He used fountain pens, some of them antiques, rather than ordinary pens, she said. He also was an avid collector of model trains.
Thomas Dubel, a Hagerstown native who had been principal of Havre de Grace and Aberdeen high schools during his 14-year tenure in the Harford County school system, had become ill in the past two weeks.
He was initially diagnosed with bronchitis, his wife said, then he developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
"His death was a tremendous shock," said Alden Halsey, deputy superintendent of the Harford school system and a friend of Mr. Dubel.
"He had a love affair with C. Milton Wright," said Bonnie Dubel, who met her husband in the 1960s when they were teachers at Francis Scott Key High School in Carroll County.
At Key, Bonnie Dubel, now a senior guidance counselor at Fallston High School near Bel Air, was a voice and music teacher and her husband was a history teacher.
Thomas Dubel eventually was assistant principal at Key and held the same post at Westminster High before moving to Harford.
He received a bachelor's degree from what is now Frostburg State University and did post-graduate work at Towson State
and George Washington universities.