DeKalb County Board of Education member Mark Richards bid farewell during the board’s Nov. 5 work session at the school system’s facilities building in Rainsville.
Richards served the DeKalb County School System and its citizens for 18 years as a District 2 representative of Fyffe and Geraldine schools.
During his time on the school board, Richards served under three superintendents, including former superintendent Charles Warren and current superintendent Jason Barnett.
Surrounded by family members, friends, former board members and coworkers, Richards was recognized for his years of service and dedication to the communities of DeKalb County.
“I want to thank [my family] for coming. A big thanks to my wife, Ann. She’s always supported me and been there,” Richards said.
“I want to thank the Geraldine and Fyffe school district for giving me 18 years. God blessed me and the people blessed me. There were two times I didn’t have an opponent, and that was great.”
Barnett presented Richards with a plaque for recognition and appreciation for 18 years of service to the DeKalb County Board of Education.
“Mark really means a lot to me. He cares about every school and community in DeKalb County, and his encouragement to me is something I’ll never forget,” Barnett said.
“He is a friend of people of DeKalb, a friend of students, a friend of the teachers, a friend of this board and he is a friend of mine, and I am going to miss him so much.”
Barnett welcomed multiple existing and former board members to the floor to recognize Richards and share their memories and sentiments of their time together.
DeKalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow thanked Richards for his service and work with the board of education and the Northeast Alabama Water Board.
Geraldine High School Principal Jason Mayfield said Richards has meant so much to him and the Geraldine community through the years, describing him as approachable and someone who dug his feet in when it came time to supporting DeKalb County Schools.
“When challenging times have come, Mark has always been there. I love you brother. I’ve been blessed to have you on the board,” Mayfield said.
Former school board superintendent Charles Warren and former board members Claude Callaham, Jeff Williams and Harold Bobo attended the celebration.
“When I came on the board here green as grass, Mark sat by me, took me under his wing and helped me along,” Callaham said. “I mean, he helped me tremendously, and I’ll always be grateful for that. Thank you for everything you did for me.”
Williams described Richards as a “reconciliatory” with a positive attitude, who he enjoyed working with and appreciated his friendship.
Echoing his sentiments, Bobo and Warren also spoke of his calm demeanor and thanked him for his service to DeKalb County schools.
Current board members Monty Darwin, Carol Hiett, vice chairman Robert Elliott and chairman Randy Peppers also took the opportunity to commend Richards for his leadership, work and dedication to DeKalb County communities.
“Everything that’s been said speaks to the character and the personality of Mark Richards,” Elliott said. “He is always calm and lets you know we’d get through things together, showing kindness and compassion.”
He said Richards always seemed to be able to keep everybody together and when you have the kind of compassion he has for people, you can’t help but love him.
“We are going to miss him on this board,” said Darwin, Hiett, Peppers and Elliott.
Incoming board member Chris Andrews said he considered Richards a great friend and thanked him for encouraging him to run for the position.
“I thank you for your leadership. I thank you for your friendship,” Andrews said. “I appreciate all you’ve done for the students and staff of DeKalb County Schools, and we wish you all the best.”
As a board member, Richards said he tried to be accessible to all those he served.
“I think I’ve done that,” he said. “The thing about being on the board is your family sometimes comes second and that’s not good, but I was gone three to four nights a week for stuff. But, I felt like people needed to see me and talk to me about issues, and I would rather do that than to get a phone call.”
Of his decision not to seek a fourth term on the DeKalb County School Board, Richards said it was not based on any issues with the board or anyone.
“We got a lot done over the years,” he said. “We’ve made a big difference over the last 18 years in this school system for the better, and I am proud of that.”
Richards said 18 years is a long time for an elected official and he would have rerun if he felt the need. However, he said everything is in good hands.
“We are headed in the right direction,” Richards said. “I appreciate everything that everybody’s ever done for me, my family and the support over the years.” God bless you.”