Harford County Public Schools announced today the sudden death of Board of Education President Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler. Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for HCPS, made the announcement in the following email sent to employees Wednesday morning, less than 36 hours after Wheeler presided over a school board meeting held Monday night.
“HCPS Family –
It is with deep and sorrowful regret that I share with you the passing of our Board of Education President Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler. At this time, the arrangements have not yet been confirmed. As soon as that information becomes available I will certainly share it with you.
In this time of sorrow, we remember that Dr. Wheeler was a kind and caring man who dedicated his life’s work to education and the betterment of his community. His passion for education and his desire to serve was evident in his leadership. In his honor, we will continue our mission of preparing our students for a bright and successful future.
At the end of each day, go home and hug your loved ones. Life is a precious gift.
Teresa D. Kranefeld
Manager of Communications”
Further details were not immediately available, but Kranefeld said more information from HCPS would be forthcoming.
Speaking on his own behalf, School Board Vice-President Rick Grambo mourned the loss of a man he said he got to know well during their service together on the school board. “Dr. Wheeler and I had become good friends,” Grambo said, “I am really going to miss him.” Wheeler and Grambo met regularly on Wednesday afternoons, Grambo said, with one such meeting scheduled for later today. “He was a very good man, very knowledgeable, very wise,” Grambo said, “ I learned a lot from him, he was a good mentor.” Grambo said he spoke to Wheeler after the school board meeting Monday night, but Wheeler showed no signs of poor health.
Harford County Council Vice-President Dick Slutzky said he was “deeply saddened” by news of Wheeler’s passing and expressed sympathy for the family. Slutzky, who serves as the council’s education liaison, said he first got to know Wheeler during the 2006 campaign for the District E (Aberdeen) seat that Slutzky still holds. Wheeler, a Democrat, ran against Slutzky, a Republican, but Slutzky said the relationship that developed between them was respectful, and more friendly than adversarial. “I considered him a friend. I’m going to miss him as a person and as an advocate in the education community.”
Following the news of Wheeler’s death, Harford County Executive David Craig issued the following statement:
“Harford County Executive David R. Craig issued the following statement regarding the unexpected passing of Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler, President of the Board of Education of Harford County:
“I am deeply saddened by the news of the unfortunate passing of Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler. Dr. Wheeler had a distinguished career as an educator and served with distinction and integrity as a member of the Board of Education. Dr. Wheeler worked tirelessly to help make Harford County Public Schools one of the finest school systems in our state.
Melinda and I extend our sincere condolences on behalf of the citizens of Harford County to Dr. Wheeler’s family, fellow Board members and the faculty and staff of Harford County Public Schools. Dr. Wheeler’s service to our school system will surely be missed.”
Below is the bio of Dr. Wheeler from the HCPS Web site:
“Leonard D. Wheeler, Ed.D.
President, Appointed Member-at-Large, 2008
Dr. Leonard D. Wheeler is a retired Baltimore City Public School teacher, curriculum specialist, principal, and assistant superintendent. He is also a retired associate professor in the department of education at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Dr. Wheeler is married to former Harford County Public School central office administrator Dr. A. Barbara Wheeler. The couple has a son, Christopher Wheeler, who was educated in the Harford County Public Schools, is currently attending Harford Community College. Dr. Leonard Wheeler earned his BS degree from Coppin State University, his master’s from Morgan State University, and his Ed.D. from Temple University. A member of the Ames United Methodist Church, he is also serving on the Judicial Nominating Committee for the county and the Harford Land Trust, in addition to being an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He is a past Trustee with the Woodbourne Board, the HJOPE Academy, the Harford County Partnership for Families, the Harford County CORE Service Agency, and the Harford County Board of Elections. The Harford Board of Education member has been honored with many civic, community, and professional awards and citations.”