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Gym to be dedicated for former principal

By Staff | Mar 21, 2012

Mariner Middle School will officially dedicate the gymnasium on Friday to former Principal Richard Lee Hagy, who died unexpectedly last year.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 6 p.m., followed by an hour-long program that will include remembrance speeches by former colleagues and students of Hagy, as well as a remembrance video and a video slide show.

Shelley Kepler, the assistant principal for curriculum at Island Coast High School, helped put the program together after learning of the dedication.

“There are a number of us who knew Rich,” she said. “He was genuinely just a nice man – he was all about the students and the kids.”

Hagy served the Lee County School District for more than 30 years as a teacher, coach and principal at Riverdale and Mariner High, the Alternative Learning Center and Mariner Middle, where he was “Principal of the Year.”

“He understood the value of extracurriculars for students as a hook and a way for them to advance their education,” Kepler said.

Hagy took under his wing students at Mariner Middle, a feeder school for Island Coast, who were not expected to go on to a secondary education.

“Because of his support and that carrying on to Island Coast, they went on to college,” she said. “He knew the value of sports and athletics for kids to get them to want to be better.”

Hagy opened Mariner Middle as the principal and continued to serve in that role until the fall of 2010, when he moved into the district offices as head of security. Hagy was serving as the acting principal at a school when he died.

On March 17, 2011, he broke up a fight in the Fort Myers Middle School cafeteria then went outside, according to Nancy Hagy, his wife and a teacher at Island Coast. When he could not be found, employees began a search.

Two hours later Hagy’s body was discovered inside of his vehicle.

The medical examiner found that he died of a massive heart attack.

“I think what I admired about him was how well liked and respected he was, and he was honest about everything,” she said. “He was such a super guy.”

According to Nancy Hagy, her husband was instrumental in getting the state of Florida to pass the anti-bullying act by working with a victim’s family.

“Richard was the principal that worked with them through the county and the state to get that act passed,” she said.

Nancy Hagy added that she is glad the school is doing the dedication.

“This way, he’ll never be forgotten,” she said. “When you have something named after you, I think people think you’re special. He was a special man.”

A post-party will be held after the dedication at Victory Lane Cafe in North Fort Myers. The public and those who knew Hagy are welcome to attend.

Mariner Middle School is at 425 Chiquita Blvd. N.

Victory Lane Cafe is at 4120 Hancock Bridge Parkway.