The founding father of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District died Wednesday. Ray VanGiesen, the district's first superintendent, was 104.
F-M Superintendent Corliss Kaiser said she regularly met Dr. VanGiesen for lunch. He often offered her words of encouragement, she said.
"He was an upbeat, humorous force," Kaiser said. "He launched the new, consolidated school district to be the great school district it is today."
Dr. VanGiesen was the supervising principal at Fayetteville High School for 14 years. In 1951, the Fayetteville and Manlius school districts joined with 11 smaller districts. He was F-M's superintendent from 1951 to 1958.
As a science teacher and coach at Fayetteville High School, Dr. VanGiesen started Central New York's first high school lacrosse program. He also coached football and hockey.
In all, Dr. VanGiesen was employed as an educator for 58 years, but his love for F-M Schools never ended, Kaiser said.
"He attended student events right up until last year, particularly at Wellwood," the building formerly known as Fayetteville High School, Kaiser said. "He was always interested in the district. He was very passionate about F-M."
Photo caption: Former F-M superintendents (from left) Phil Martin and Raymond VanGiesen meet with new superintendent Corliss Kaiser in June 2005.