The Glenelg High School community is mourning the death of Assistant Principal Robert Connor, who died Monday of complications from emergency surgery. He was 53 and lived in Arbutus.
Connor was a dedicated administrator who "put the needs of the kids first," said Linda Wise, the school system's assistant superintendent of administration who hired Connor in 1999 when she was Glenelg's principal.
"He did a lot with discipline, but he did that from a father's and guidance's point of view," she said. "He really was an outstanding administrator."
Ms. Wise relayed a story she had heard from a teacher when she and Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin visited the school Wednesday to support students and staff members, who were told of Mr. Connor's death that morning.
"One of the teachers shared that one of the kids in her class was pretty upset," Ms. Wise recalled. "He was a frequent flier in the office, and Bob had met with him on Friday. [Bob] told him that he didn't want to see him in the office anymore and wanted to make sure that he would focus on his work and that [Bob] wanted to attend his graduation.
"The kid said he's going to make sure he graduates now."
On Wednesday, as the news of Mr. Connor's death broke, the school system's crisis team was on hand to assist grieving students and staff. Glenelg postponed until Thursday a back-to-school night scheduled for that evening.
Mr. Connor was married for 29 years to Maura Connor. Their daughter, Emma, is 19.
Mrs. Connor said her husband's surgery over the weekend was an unexpected emergency. She declined to reveal the nature of the surgery was.
Teaching was in her husband's blood, his wife said.
Mr. Connor's mother was a substitute teacher in Anne Arundel County schools; his brother teaches math at Seton Keough High School in Baltimore, and his sister was a teaching assistant in Anne Arundel schools.
"It could be stressful at times and challenging," said Mrs. Connor, who lives in Arbutus. "He always put his whole self into what he was doing. ... He really cared. He had a very good understanding of the [teenage] students he was dealing with."
Gail Reinking, president of Glenelg's PTSA, recalled Mr. Connor's support for the school's arts programs. He played an integral role in the construction of the school's performing arts wing and helped establish a music technology course this year, parents and school officials said.
Mr. Connor, who grew up in Pasadena, began teaching in Anne Arundel County in 1975. He spent most of his career at Chesapeake High School as an English teacher and administrator, a school system spokesman said.
He left Chesapeake in 1999 to become assistant principal at Glenelg.
Services will be held at noon tomorrow at Our Lady of Victory Church, 4416 Wilkens Ave. in Arbutus.