Richard L. Barranger, a veteran Baltimore County public schools educator who later became an adjunct professor at Towson University, died June 15 from cancer at his Forest Hill home. He was 85.
“Dick was the prototype ‘Mr. Nice Guy,’” said Robert Y. Dubel, who headed Baltimore County public schools for 16 years before retiring in 1992. He noted Mr. Barranger set high goals for excellence, “and students and teachers strove to meet them, because they wanted to please ‘Mr. Nice Guy.’”
Richard Leo Barranger was born in Baltimore and raised on East 38th Street. He was the son of William J. Barranger, a produce dealer for the Winter Produce Co. at the old Richmond Market, and Catherine Loretta Horgan Barranger, a homemaker.
He had been a student at Blessed Sacrament School and was a 1951 graduate of City College, where he ran track and played varsity football.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1955 from what is now Loyola University Maryland, then received a master’s degree in education, also from Loyola. He also performed additional graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University.
From 1956 to 1958, he served as an Army private, working in the biological warfare laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick.
Mr. Baranger began his Baltimore County public schools’ career in 1958, joining the faculty of North Point Junior High School. There, he taught science and later became department chair.
He moved to Stemmers Run Junior High School in 1960 and taught science, ultimately becoming department chair.
In 1970, he was named assistant principal at Woodlawn Junior High School, and four years later was given a similar assignment at Dumbarton Junior High School.
He served as an assistant principal at Parkville High School from 1975 to 1982, then was promoted to principal at Johnnycake Junior High. In 1987 he was named principal of Parkville Middle School.
Two years later, he was named an assistant area superintendent for Southeast Area Schools, and later served in that role for Southwest Area Schools.
He retired in 1997.
“Dick was an outstanding principal whose focus was always on the children. He was also a great institutional leader,” Dr. Dubel said. “He had a wonderful rapport with people.”
Mr. Barranger was a member of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, the teachers’ union, and had been president of the organization in 1967. In 1969 he served as a member of the executive board of the Maryland State Teachers Association.
Serving as a panelist at a meeting of state boards of education in 1968, Mr. Barranger emphasized their responsibility to determine what kind of education they wanted.
“You must determine if you want kindergartens and certified teachers. … You can’t ask teachers to subsidize education. You must convince the public that it is their responsibility to pay for it,” he told The Baltimore Sun.
In 1969, when then-County Executive Dale Anderson proposed cuts in the school budget and a 25 percent reduction in salary increases that had been negotiated with the school board, plus a cutback in new teachers, TABCO members marched on the county office building.
In an interview with The Sun at the time, Mr. Barranger said a reduction of teachers to the school system would be “a deterrent to effective teaching and compound discipline problems.”
Mr. Barranger had also served as president in 1978 of the Secondary School Administrators Association and in 1979 was president of the Congress of Administrative and Supervisory Educators.
In retirement, he launched a second career at Towson University as an adjunct professor. He taught courses in administration and supervision for master’s degree programs. He also developed a program for a delegation of a dozen administrators from Shanghi, China, studying American high schools.
His wife of 32 years, Jane N. Barranger, a former principal of Towson High School, called her husband “a wonderful human being and a great husband and partner.”
She noted that he was a world traveler who enjoyed golfing and walking his dog Ginger, a Shih Tsu.
A memorial service was held Thursday at Evans Funeral Chapel in Forest Hill.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, the Rev. Joseph Barranger, O.P., of Charlottesville, Va.; a daughter, Jennifer Whitehurst of Cockeysville; and four grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.