School board member, 73, dies at home

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Joe Scott, the often outspoken member of the Richmond County Board of Education, died in his sleep Saturday morning.

Mr. Scott, 73, was pronounced dead at 9:11 a.m. at his home, said Richmond County Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald. He died of natural causes and had suffered medical problems, Mr. McDonald said. He would not comment on the details of Mr. Scott's health issues.

Serving his second term on the board representing District 5, Mr. Scott was known for fighting for what he believed in, willing to go it alone if need be. In November, he was re-elected to another four-year term by an overwhelming majority, garnering more than 74 percent of the vote. In his first term on the school board, Mr. Scott served two years as vice president.

Schools superintendent Dana Bedden, who occasionally clashed with Mr. Scott, said in a statement that he and his family were saddened by the news, calling him a valuable member of the school system.

"During my tenure as Superintendent of Schools, it has been my observation and belief that Mr. Scott always tried to do what he believed in his heart was right for our school system, the education of children, and the city of Augusta," Dr. Bedden said. "On a personal note, my wife and I would like to publicly thank Mr. Scott and his wife for the time they joined us in celebrating our daughter's birthday and allowing our children to play with his grandchildren. While he will be truly missed by the Richmond County School System, I will miss him deeply both professionally and personally."

Other school officials had similar praise for Mr. Scott, whose political experience also included time on the Augusta Aviation Commission and the Richmond County Coliseum Authority.

"He did those things he believed would benefit the community," school board President Marion Barnes said Saturday. "He really believed in what he was doing."

The two lifelong educators, who grew up together, butted heads at times, but he said Mr. Scott would never let those disagreements affect their friendship.

Mr. Barnes said Mr. Scott always set aside politics when it came to doing the work of the school board. They taught together, played football together and both graduated from Paine College.

Board member Eloise Curtis, who taught alongside Mr. Scott at Josey High School, described him as someone willing to dig up information, track down issues and ask tough questions.

"We are going to miss ole Joe," she said.

Mr. Scott was a good-hearted person, who played point guard on the basketball team growing up, Ms. Curtis said.

Fellow board member Helen Minchew recalled a conference in Savannah when she had car trouble. Mr. Scott made sure she made it to a mechanic and stayed close by during the drive back to Augusta to ensure her car didn't break down.

"He took time to make sure that I was taken care of and that I made it back safe to Augusta, Mrs. Minchew said. "He was really quite helpful."

Mr. Scott always tried to do what was right, she said.

That drive, however, sometimes created friction among board members. Mr. Scott tirelessly pushed particular issues, unafraid to press sensitive subjects.

He continually questioned the need for separate Garrett and National Hills elementary schools, two small west Augusta schools less than a mile apart.

And he fought for more minority and women-owned businesses to get contracts with the school system.

Among his controversies while on the school board, Mr. Scott also took fellow board member Venus Cain to court. He sought to have her arrested, accusing her of threatening to beat him up during a closed-door meeting.

Mr. Scott joined the school board after retiring from the school system, where he worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Levi White and Jenkins elementary schools.

During his campaigns, he frequently touted his goals of transparency, accountability and equity.

"I ran on transparency, accountability and equity, and I stuck to that," Mr. Scott said on election night in November. "People know me and know what I stand for."

Mr. Scott and board member Barbara Pulliam often held joint community gatherings and forums for their constituents. At some of the meetings, he brought members of the school board's central offices into their districts to meet directly with the residents they represent.

And he was highly visible in the community.

"He always went to everything as for any community or school function," Mrs. Minchew said. "He always seemed to take the time."

In May 2008, he opened up about his life while speaking to students at Glenn Hills High School in hopes of encouraging them to rise above their circumstances and become successful.

"My mother died when I was 2. My father left me when I was 2," Mr. Scott told the students. "I could have had any excuse to fail and not be anything and blame it on somebody else.

"You can't let people tell you what you're going to be and be it. They defeat you."

Mr. Scott is survived by his wife, Patsy, and three sons. Mays Mortuary is handling funeral arrangements, which will be announced later.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

FILLING THE VACANCY ON THE SCHOOL BOARD

The Richmond County Board of Elections will meet Monday to determine when Joe Scott's seat on the school board can be filled, school board attorney Pete Fletcher said.

According to the school board's charter, the election must be held on the next special election date, but no sooner than 50 days from the time the seat becomes vacant, Mr. Fletcher said. The next special election date is Sept. 15, but the 50-day deadline is close, which could push back an election to Nov. 3.

Mr. Scott's term ends Dec. 31, 2012.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 07/26/09 - 03:18 am
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Our condolences to the Scott

Our condolences to the Scott family upon this tragic occasion.

voiceofconcern
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voiceofconcern 07/26/09 - 05:42 am
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Mr. Scott will be missed. He

Mr. Scott will be missed. He was a valuable member of the school and city communities, and an important member of our Tabernacle Baptist Church congregation. R.I.P. Joe Scott, your family and specifically, your sons, will carry on your work. You've trained them well.

Kramer
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Kramer 07/26/09 - 08:25 am
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Joe was honest and he worked

Joe was honest and he worked hard to try to make things better for his constituents and his community. He was never selfish, or out just for himself. He was a hard worker, and he was a dedicated educator. He would study on a subject and he would listen.

Lumbarsupport
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Lumbarsupport 07/26/09 - 09:24 am
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The only person qualified to

The only person qualified to fill Mr. Scott's shoe is Marion WIlliams. Lets all hope that he will be appointed to the vacant spot of the school board to continue on in his spirit of service. Our thoughts go out to Mr. Scott's family and friends.

Son of God
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Son of God 07/26/09 - 12:30 pm
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My heartfelt prayers go out

My heartfelt prayers go out to the Scott family. Mr Scott and his family had the same kindness in their hearts to help everyone that they could. Their duty was to serve others and love them unconditionally. The song that is in my heart for Mr. Scott is . If I could Help Somebody, Then My Living Won't be In Vain. he never agreed with the majority in order to solve a problem. He would always ask questions and always be willing to agree to disagree. He was in a recent meeting in a community setting asking questions about policies and voicing his concerns for the children, parents, and all Richmond County School personnel. God sometimes allows us to take off the corruptible,(the cares of the world), and put on the INCORRUPTICLE CROWN OF EVERLASTING LIFE (the spirit man yeilded to God). Mr. Scott has passed fron Death to Life. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We, too MUST take this journey. Let's PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD. Mr. Scott tried to help everyone. He did not go along with the majority who made bad decisions to sabbotage God's children. Some actually threw stones at him just as they mocked Jesus but he still walked in PERFECT LOVE. He knew how to LOVE

Son of God
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Son of God 07/26/09 - 12:39 pm
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and bless both his enemies

and bless both his enemies and his friends. Just a phone call to his home and his family, especially his hand maiden of the Lord, his wife, would talk to strangers and encourage them and had never met them. What Love this man had that he would lay down his life to help someone. Take your rest Dr. Scott. We still love you and God has raised for some true soldires of Christ who are not afraid and will speak up for Justice just as you did. To Mrs. Scott and family, Be strong in the Lord and in the Power of his might. We will forever love you and keep you in our prayers. Continue to speak up for righteousness and justice just as Mr. Scott did. We will still call you just to hear your support on the phone to strangers. May God Holy Spirit continur to dwell in you as you continue to walk in your Jesus steps just as your husband did. Amen....

Lumbarsupport
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Lumbarsupport 07/26/09 - 02:37 pm
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Son of God: Fill your

Son of God: Fill your perscription.

colcamp1
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colcamp1 07/26/09 - 04:56 pm
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Church, can you let the man

Church, can you let the man be buried before you talk about replacing him. GEEZ!!!!!!

pj
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pj 07/26/09 - 05:59 pm
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I do believe Mr. Scott had a

I do believe Mr. Scott had a good heart and cared for the youth in the community. He attended a few of the PTSA meetings and functions at the school that was not in his district. He would see me and ask was I ready for this school year, and I knew exactly what he meant. He was there and was fighting for the students. People would ask why was he at the PTSA meetings and I would say, no one else was there and sometimes not many parents were there at the meetings. Prayers and Peace to the family.

Whatthetruth
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Whatthetruth 07/26/09 - 07:42 pm
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Mr. Scott was the only board

Mr. Scott was the only board member that took the time to listen and to investigate undue practices. He was never silent and always fought for what was right... He was persecuted for his call for fairness. I fear there is no hope left for RCBOE without his strong opinions and his values. God Bless his soul. My strongest condolences to his wife and sons. This community and school system has lost a very good man. Mr. Scott, you have fought a good fight,now it is time to claim your reward and take your much deserved rest. To GOD be all the Glory. You will never be forgotten. --
Dr. Bedden, I wish you had shown him this same respect when he was alive. We must all learn to be careful how we treat people, you never know how long we have to live on this earth.

TellTheLordThankYou
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TellTheLordThankYou 07/26/09 - 10:01 pm
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When leaving the RCSS

When leaving the RCSS building last week I saw Mr. Scott. I turned around, stopped him and told him of how much I appreciated his support for me and others. He thanked me and wished me well for the upcoming school year. Now he's gone. I am so thankful that time was taken to let him know how gratefull I was for his assistance. Take the time to let others know how much you appreciate them while they live. May the God of peace comfort the Scott family during this time of great loss to us all.

prolifer
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prolifer 07/27/09 - 09:00 am
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whatthetruth, because Dr.

whatthetruth, because Dr. Bedden disagreed with Mr. Scott does not mean he did not respect him. Dr. Bedden spoke very highly of him in the article.

Son of God
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Son of God 07/27/09 - 10:10 am
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Thank you Falls Church for

Thank you Falls Church for your inspirational posting on Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 2;37 p.m. The name, FALLS church is very interesting and fits the occasion appropriately. My prescription will never be filled nor will I ever stop refilling it until I meet jesus as Dr. Scott has. The only doctor who can write out or fill my prescriptions is Yahweh, The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords. I do not EVER depend on the world to fill my prescriptions because they always add extra medicine that God did not order. Michael Jackson's prescriptions were filled with Deprivan. That cost him his soul. Who filled those prescriptions were devil worshipers, some of the same people who treated Mr. Scott unfairly. Who's filling your prescriptions? I will pray for you as Mr. Scott continually prayed for his enemies and loved them unconditionally. Matthew 5:44. I don't know you but I truly love you. I am letting you know this NOW before I say any kind words about you after you're gone. I will repeat myself one million times about the goodness of Jesus and the greatness and legacy of our renowned board member, Joe Scott. I agree with everyone else, he can never be replaced. He needs no more prescriptions

GnipGnop1
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GnipGnop1 07/27/09 - 10:20 am
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Marion Williams? You must be

Marion Williams? You must be joking!

PoorRoe
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PoorRoe 07/27/09 - 11:31 am
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The Augusta community has

The Augusta community has lost a gallant and tireless fighter for "justice for all". Joe believed in his beloved home town, and was willing to offer himself to help improve it. In the 40+ years I knew him, he never forgot from where he came, or his willingness to reach back to help others. RIP old friend.......

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