PICKENS COUNTY —Services will be held today at 3:30 p.m. at Easley Presbyterian Church for Richard Henry Gettys, long-time educator in Pickens County.
Monday night at the meeting of the Board of Trustees for the School District of Pickens County, Dr. Henry Hunt, current Superintendent of the district, said he worked both as a peer to Gettys during his years as principal of Easley Junior High School and Easley High School, and under Gettys during the years when Gettys was district superintendent.
“You always knew where you stood with Dick,” Hunt said Monday night. Earlier in the day Hunt released a statement concerning Gettys’ passing.
“Mr. Gettys was a legend in the School District of Pickens County, and I count it an honor to have known him,” Hunt said. “I worked with him as a fellow principal and then worked under him when he became superintendent. As an administrator, he truly had students’ interests at heart. Mr. Gettys was willing to express his view, so you always knew where he stood on issues. I can vividly remember his sound advice and his many stories about education. He will continue living in our hearts.”
Trustee Judy Edwards noted that Gettys was present at last Monday’s school board meeting at Liberty Middle School and spoke out against proposed teacher cuts.
“This district meant everything to him,” Edwards said. Board chair Alex Saitta shared a memory from several years ago, when Dr. Lee DeAndrea decided to step away from the position of Superintendent of the district.
“I knew that Dr. (Mendel) Stewart was who we needed to replace her,” Saitta said. “He’s the only person who can bring the board together and move forward.”
Yet Stewart, who had retired, was hesitant to accept the job. Saitta said that while driving one night, the idea occurred to him to ask Stewart’s longtime friend Gettys to have a few words with him.”
Saitta said he stopped at a convenience store, called Gettys and explained the situation.
“He said ‘OK, let me talk to him,’” Saitta said. “He did, and Dr. Stewart agreed to accept the job.”
Gettys, 80, passed away Sunday. A graduate of Wofford College, Gettys earned graduate degrees from Furman and Clemson universities. He began his career as a teacher and coach at Spartanburg High School. He later became the first principal of Easley Junior High School. Later, when schools in Pickens County adapted to the Middle School concept, the school was renamed “Gettys Middle School.
Gettys stayed at the school from 1962-1977.
After working in the district office as the Director of Secondary Education, Gettys became the principal of Easley High School in 1978, and held that position until 1989, when he accepted a position in the district office again, this time as the Director of Management Information Services. In 1991, he accepted the position of Superintendent of the district, which he remained until his retirement in 1994.
He is survived by his wife Celia Bryson Gettys and sons Dr. Richard Henry Gettys Jr., Roddey Bryson Gettys and Robert Lesslie Gettys, as well as seven grandchildren.