EAST COUNTY — To Stacey Vedder, Gene Witt was the kind, deep-voiced father of her friend, Leann.
The girls attended Palmetto Elementary, Lincoln Middle and Palmetto High schools together.
When she started her teaching career at Blackburn Elementary in 1988, she wasn’t surprised when Witt, then superintendent of the Manatee County School District, stopped by her classroom just to say, “Hello.”
“He was always so nice and personable,” Vedder said. “I’ll never forget when he visited me at school. When he left, the other teachers ran over and asked why I was in trouble.”
Vedder, who teaches second grade at Gene Witt Elementary School, is one of thousands of school district employees, students, teachers and other community members who will remember Gene Witt.
Witt died Feb. 5. He was 85.
Witt is the second former superintendent with East County ties to die this year. He died less than a month after 75-year-old Robert “Dan” Nolan.
Witt was an educator with the school district from 1955 to 1994. He held positions such as teacher, principal, coach and superintendent.
But the former educator leaves behind more than his family, friends, former colleagues, 11 years as a superintendent and educational influence; he left behind a school named in his honor, Gene Witt Elementary.
“Mr. Witt touched and shaped thousands of lives and careers," Manatee County School District Superintendent Rick Mills said. “We are proud that Gene Witt Elementary School will continue to keep his memory alive for generations to come."
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].