Former beloved high school principal dies

Published 12:12 am Thursday, December 5, 2019


VIDALIA — Rick Brown, 69, dedicated his life to his students and touched his pupils, friends, family and colleagues throughout his life.

Brown, who worked in Concordia Parish schools for nearly 30 years, died Wednesday morning.

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Brown’s teaching and coaching career began at Ferriday High School in 1986, said the Superintendent of Concordia Parish Schools, Whest Shirley.

Brown later transferred to Monterey as a teacher, Vidalia Junior High School as the assistant principal and worked as a principal, teacher and coach at Vidalia High School from 1999 until 2015, Shirley said.

To his students, Brown was a firm but sincerely kind man who often went above and beyond his call of duty to help every single one of them, said Jana Lincecum, who was a friend and coworker to Brown for at least 16 years at Vidalia High School.

“He didn’t play games when it came to his children,” Lincecum said. “He didn’t have any kids but all of his students were his kids.”

To his peers, Brown was a loyal friend with a profound sense of humor that only a special few really got, Lincecum said.

“He and Christi Welch and I were what I called the trifecta,” Lincecum said. “There was usually a lot of laughter coming from the front office and it was coming from us — Coach (Dee) Faircloth too. I have some funny stories and we had some good times. … I’ve got a huge hole in my heart. I could probably write a book on him, as you can tell. There is nothing he wouldn’t have done for his students if he could. That was his heart.”

Shirley, who worked at Vidalia Junior High School while Brown was the principal of Vidalia High School, said he could see Brown’s white SUV parked outside of his office as early as 6 a.m. before school started and often teased him about beating him to work every day.

“As a running joke, he and all the other principals would compare who had the worst day and he always had some story to tell. If you asked any of the other principals he would always win.” Shirley said. “He had a distinct laugh that was contagious. Whenever he laughed, you laughed with him. That’s just the kind of man he was.”

Jay Lasyone, Brown’s brother-in-law, said Brown had been diagnosed with lung cancer last summer and became terminally ill by the end of November.

Lasyone said even after Brown retired from being a principal, teacher and coach at Vidalia High School in 2015; he continued to educate as a counselor at the River Correctional Facility in Ferriday up until he became ill.

“He was dedicated to the school and his students,” Lasyone said. “That was his life. … He was Vidalia High School principal for 17 years and was still teaching and changing lives up until he got sick.”

Cristi Welch, who worked as the secretary at Vidalia High School, said she could recall the impact Brown had on his students as well as the impact he had on her and her family.

“He was a good man,” she said. “I worked together with him for a long, long time, and he was always very good to me. He cared very much for his students. He seemed rough on the outside but had a big heart for them and worked very hard to see that those who struggled made it to graduation.”

Welch said while her daughter-in-law, Paige Staggs-Welch was a student at Vidalia High School and was very sick, she remembers how well Brown treated her without realizing Paige would later join her family.

“He had a special place in his heart for her,” she said. “That was just another layer to how special he was.”