Headmaster to leave Friends School Forbush succeeded father as head of Baltimore Quaker institution in 1960

February 13, 1997|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

'TC W. Byron Forbush II, who has spent much of his career and most of his life at Baltimore's Friends School, announced yesterday that he will retire in June 1998 after 38 years as headmaster.

A fixture in independent education locally and nationally, Forbush is by far the longest-serving headmaster in Maryland, and perhaps in the country. His father, Bliss Forbush Sr., also led the Quaker school, from 1943 to 1960.

He announced his long-rumored retirement at a meeting of the school's more than 200 staff and faculty members yesterday afternoon, and in a letter to parents of the school's 990 students, which was mailed yesterday.

"I've loved being here. I've had an unusually long time. In a profession where the average tenure is six to seven years, 38 is quite long," Forbush said last night, adding that he's often joked with colleagues that the average will become even shorter once he retires.

A search committee, made up of members of the school's board of trustees, began working six months ago to find a new head for Baltimore's oldest school. School officials said the committee would conduct a nationwide search through a Boston consulting firm, and expects to name a new headmaster by early next year.

In the meantime, Forbush, 67, will continue to run the 212-year-old school with his take-charge, forward-thinking style. "I told the group I don't plan to be a lame anything for the next year and a half," he said.

Forbush has seen the school through the student unrest of the 1960s and 1970s, through the school's separation from the adjacent Friends Meeting House, through enrollment growth and into the age of technology.

When Forbush leaves Friends, it will be the end of an era in Baltimore education. He replaced his father as headmaster; Byron Forbush's late brother, Bliss Jr., taught at the Quaker school for 36 years.

Forbush came to Friends as a preschooler and stayed, graduating in the Class of 1947. He went on to the Johns Hopkins University, where he was a member of the undefeated lacrosse squad of 1950 and became an All-American player.

Since returning to Friends in 1960, Forbush has lived in the yellow house on the North Charles Street campus. He and his late wife, Anne, raised their three children there; none of them is connected with the school.

"The school is his life," former Friends School administrator Ken Smith told The Sun in an interview last year. "Friends School is, in many ways, an extension of him," said Smith, now head of Sandy Springs Friends School in Montgomery County.

"I will move off campus and that may be the hardest part," Forbush said. "I'll be giving up my country club -- my tennis courts and swimming pool."

At yesterday's meeting, Forbush also announced that he will become chairman of the board of trustees of Sheppard Pratt Health System -- again following in his father's footsteps. The Forbush School at Sheppard Pratt was named for his mother and father, he said.

Forbush has been on the hospital board for 23 years.

"He's been a wonderful supporter of Sheppard Pratt for a number of years. He has shown great leadership on a number of committees and we're really looking forward to having him take over," said Mark R. Eber, hospital spokesman.

In June, Forbush will replace James D. Peacock, who will be stepping down from the volunteer position.

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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