Stroud, educator, dies at 77

  |     |   Story updated at 10:48 PM on Friday, March 30, 2007

Howard Stroud's resume could cover pages, but the educator and community leader's dignity and integrity were his strongest attributes, friends and family say. Stroud, who helped shepherd the Clarke County School District through integration during his 36-year career as a teacher, principal and administrator, died early Friday of natural causes. He was 77.

Jackson-McWhorter Funeral Home has charge of arrangements, which are not expected to be complete until this morning.

"He wanted to be fair as far as all parties concerned," said Charles Stroud, Howard Stroud's younger brother. "He was a person who most people looked up to and requested regardless of what organization he was a part of."

Stroud was a pillar of the black community in Athens and, along with H.T. Edwards and Samuel F. Harris, stood apart, said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, one of Stroud's former students. "He carried himself (with) respect and dignity," said Thurmond. "He was soft-spoken, but when he spoke, you listened."

In a 1999 interview, Stroud said he was very much involved in the civil rights movement. Among his memories of that era were "interesting and trying experiences," including the flexibility the students had and the inflexibility of some of the adults. It was funny how good things happened when a student would take the lead, telling the adults to leave them alone, and letting them work it out, he said.

"He was well-respected by the African-American community and the European-American community," said state Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, who knew Stroud for more than 20 years. "Having that type of relationship ... helped the county. He was always there to give that voice of reason. What led him was doing the right thing. It wasn't black or white, but what was right."

Many elected officials sought Stroud's advice because he was a prominent figure with ties to so many organizations.

"He actually did things," said Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Harry Sims, also one of Stroud's former students. "He was always trying to be a part of the solution. He was never one that was part of the problem. People called him to get advice."

Stroud probably would want to be remembered more for what he tried to do for Athens residents than his own accomplishments, Sims said.

"I lived by the philosophy that you don't need to ask somebody else why certain things don't happen; instead, get yourself involved to make things happen," Stroud said in 1999. "This is my community, so I do what I can do to make it better."

Stroud was born in 1930 in Athens, the oldest of six children. He attended Union Baptist Institute, a private school that later became Burney Harris School when the Clarke County school system was formed.

Stroud later attended Morehouse College and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in administration from Atlanta University. He did post-graduate study at the University of Georgia and Appalachian State University.

Stroud returned to Athens in 1956 and decided he liked teaching after filling in for a teacher.

"For my niche in life, I wanted to serve my fellow man, and teaching was another way of serving," Stroud said 1999. "I stayed in education, and I've never regretted it."

Stroud started with the Clarke County School District as a teacher at Athens High and Industrial in 1956. He later was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Lyons Junior High School, now Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School. Stroud later held several administrative roles in the district's central office, including middle and high school coordinator, administrative assistant to the superintendent, acting superintendent and associate superintendent. He retired in 1992, but continued to serve with several community groups.

He was a member of a number of organizations, including the Athens Morehouse Alumni club, the Athens Symphony, the Morton Theatre Corp., the United Way of Northeast Georgia, the Athens Regional Medical Authority, the Classic Center Authority and the Athens Retired Teachers Association.

He was named Teacher of the Year in 1960 and Morehouse Alumnus of the Year in 1987. The Foundation for Excellence in Public Education in Clarke County in 1987 established the Howard B. Stroud Leadership Award for distinguished educators in his name.

Survivors include his wife, Bettye; one son, Howard Jr., and one daughter, Kesha.


Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 03 31 07