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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Tribute to Rich Scofield

A Tribute to Richard Tremont Scofield

It is with profound grief and sadness that the child care field receives the tragic news of the death of Rich Scofield. Surrounded by loved ones and friends, Rich died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, at 8:00 p.m., Monday, July 19, 2004. He was doing something he loved, swimming, when a tragic aneurysm occurred that led to his death. He was 56.

Rich Scofield
Excerpted from the obituary in The Tennessean on July 21, 2004:

Rich was born June 29, 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Frances (Tremont) and Kennard Scofield. He graduated from the University of Connecticut 1970 and received his Masters Degree in Child Development in 1979 from George Peabody at Vanderbilt. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Johnson; children, Tara Johnson, Susie Johnson, Joel Williamson and Quintaria Brunson; four grandchildren, Joel (LJ), Yhazmyn, Jaliyah and Aanya; many beloved friends and extended family.

He was a neighborhood activist city-wide and particularly in the Breeze Hill Community. He impacted thousands of children, families and providers with his writings and public speaking. He lived life with irrepressible spirit and tenacity as well as generosity and sensitivity. No words adequately describe the emptiness left by his death.

Excerpts from Rich’s bio on the School-Age Notes Website, from which the photo above also comes; additional content comes from an email announcement of Rich’s death sent by:

  • Bonnie Johnson, Richard’s wife
  • Tracey Ballas, Friend and Consultant
  • Mary Helen, Joyce Jackson, and Beth Thorneycroft, Staff of School-Age NOTES

Rich’s vast contribution to the field of school-age care is beyond measure. He will long be remembered as the founder and publisher of the trailblazing creation of School-Age NOTES, which was headed into its 25th year of serving the school-age care community at the time of Rich’s death.

Rich was a child development specialist and recognized leader in the field of school-age care. His 25 years of experience in the school-age care profession included work as a program volunteer, caregiver, and director in a variety of settings.

He was the founding vice-president and a long-time Board Member of the National School-Age Care Alliance, now known as the National AfterSchool Association, and served on the board of directors and in various positions for the Tennessee School-Age Care Alliance, Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Southern Early Childhood Association. Rich taught a school-age course at the University of Kentucky for eight years and served on the first Advisory Panel of NAEYC's National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development.

He delivered over 200 keynotes and workshops at conferences across the United States, Canada, Australia and for the U.S. military in Germany. A national authority on school-age care, Rich was interviewed by U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, NBC News and Walt Disney Productions. He was a White House invitee and was quoted in the U.S. Senate. He had formerly served as the school-age columnist for Scholastic Parent and Child. He impacted thousands of children, families, and providers with his writings and public speaking.

The School-Age NOTES staff will continue to produce the monthly newsletter, the After-School Catalog, and the on-going work of the company. They assure the subscribers to their newsletter and their many customers that all services will be continued.

Rich will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him. Messages of condolence can be sent to the School-Age NOTES office at P.O. Box 40205, Nashville, TN 37204.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in honor of Richard’s life work to the Richard T. Scofield Memorial and Education Fund for Children at Bank of America, 645 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN 37204.

Words from David Whitaker, founder of Toolbox Training:

I don’t know how to measure the legacy of one human being. Rich Scofield had an impact on innumerable children throughout the world with his work in the school-age care field. His leadership in developing the field into a profession of note is incalculable. To make any comments about his impact concrete, I can only share my story.

I met Rich in an airport in Kansas City 10 years ago. I was working as a Site Coordinator with a before-and-after school program in the North Kansas City School District. I had written some curriculum for their summer program and my supervisor, Sherri Kuhn, thought I should show it to Rich. “Some people are meeting him at the airport. You should show him that games curriculum. Maybe it could be a book,” she said.

I trekked out to the airport one afternoon where three of us sat and chatted with Rich while he was on a layover. I’d never even had contact with Rich before and, when I look back at it now, it seems quite na├»ve and presumptuous of me that I would think a man of such stature should care about chatting with me.

Of course, Rich simply recognized me as another person dedicated to the field and not some wacko that accosts people in airports. He generously gave his time and support and, as he boarded his plane with my games curriculum tucked under his arm, his words rang through my head: “we could pretty much publish this as is.”

In the world of book publishing, people just don’t hear things like that. However, Rich was a down-to-earth person who never made you feel like he was some big hot shot in the field who needed to be viewed with reverence. He was a colleague, a friend, and just another humble servant to the world of child care.

In 1996, School-Age NOTES published my first book – none other than that games curriculum I’d showed Rich a couple years before. Over the years, I’ve published two other books through School-Age NOTES and been honored to write for their newsletter on multiple occasions.

In 1998, I launched Toolbox Training, largely based on the confidence I gained from being a published author. Three years later, I earned a Masters in Education, a degree I pursued after advice from Rich. Publishing my first book, launching Toolbox Training, and earning my Masters are three of my proudest accomplishments, and they’re due to Rich. It all came from a meeting in an airport.

Of course, I’m only one person. There are so many more people out there whose lives have been touched by Rich Scofield. How many other people have written and published books and articles because of him? How many child care providers have a School-Age NOTES book on their shelves? How many newsletter subscribers have gained a global scope on the field or tried out new activities with their kids? How many people saw him give keynotes or workshops or met him at conferences? How many people have a newfound respect for the school-age field because of Rich’s work in founding NSACA, now NAA?

Most importantly, how many children have benefited from the legacy that Rich has left? Rich was one of the field’s greatest contributors. He may have been the greatest advocate for School-Age care that we’ve seen. The man is now gone, but his legacy and influence will always be with us. Rich, you will be missed.

David Whitaker, Toolbox Training
July 20, 2004