Lawrence E. Knight, the principal of Broadneck High School when it opened in 1981, died yesterday of an apparent heart attack. He was 67.
"In an era of mediocrity, he was just an unbelievable leader," said Tim McMullen, the school's assistant athletic director. Mr. McMullen called off the day's junior varsity baseball game against Severna Park when he learned of Mr. Knight's death.
Mr. Knight retired as principal at Broadneck in August 1993, saying it was time to move on to a new stage in his life. He said he did so "with a sweet taste in my mouth."
Laura Webb, former Annapolis High School principal, said she had spoken to Mr. Knight Sunday. "I thought his life was the best right now," she said.
She noted that even in retirement, he didn't stop giving to his community. Tuesday night, he was elected president of the Downs on the Severn Homeowners Association, she said.
Mr. Knight worked in the school system long enough to see his former students succeed.
"He was my physics teacher in high school, and then he became my close colleague and friend," said Katherine Henry, divisional vice president for Education Alternatives Inc. and the former director of training for the Anne Arundel County public schools.
"He was an extraordinary man in that he did not compromise his standards for excellence, and he believed that you could achieve whatever you put your mind to," Dr. Henry said. "Every student was important to him, and he would give all that he had to try to provide for the student's success. He would just demand your best every day, and he gave his best every day."
Dr. Henry, who worked with Mr. Knight for 14 years, said she came to appreciate his leadership.
"The leadership that he provided at both Severn River Junior High School and Broadneck Senior High School will be felt for many years by the community and by the legacy that he has left through the administrators he has trained," she said.
Harry Calender, principal at Chesapeake High School, said Mr. Knight earned the respect of other administrators through his conduct.
"Larry didn't talk a lot in principals' meetings, but when he did talk it was worthwhile, and he gained a lot of respect, I think, from that," Mr. Calender said. "There's no doubt that he did a lot to set precedents for Broadneck, the whole program, academics and the extracurricular program."
Under Mr. Knight's leadership, Broadneck received recognition for academic and athletic achievements. In 1989, the U.S. Department of Education and the state Department of Education awarded the school certificates of merit for its outstanding academic programs. The school's baseball, basketball, lacrosse, girls' soccer and gymnastics teams have combined to win 10 state championships. The stadium, completed in 1984, is named for Mr. Knight.
Mr. Knight grew up in Virginia, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at Virginia State College. After moving to Anne Arundel County, he taught science for 11 years at Wiley H. Bates High School, then the county's only high school for blacks. In 1974, he presided over the opening of Severn River Junior High School, then developed start-up plans for Broadneck.