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Family and friends of Thomas T. Dubel Sr. turned the Bel Air United Methodist Church into a hall of tribute Friday for the man who left an indelible stamp on C. Milton Wright High School in little more thana year after stepping in as principal.

Dubel, 49, who died suddenly of heart failure Wednesday, was remembered for his friendship to students and the school community.

"He had an ability to talk with kids that I haven't seen in a lotof people," said Christina Reynolds, a vice principal who came to C.Milton Wright last September with Dubel. "He made decisions keeping in mind that we make them for the good of the students."

If Dubel's colleagues sensed he was commited to his students like family during his 14 years with Harford schools, that was never so true as last year, when his son, Tommy Jr., was student government president.

Tommy is now a freshman at the University of Maryland in College Park.

"There's been a lot of tears but the students are handling it verywell," said Philip Hauck, the school's guidance counselor. "I think they're trying to carry on (Mr. Dubel's) tradition of being brave in life."

Dubel's life was dedicated to education from the time he received a bachelor's degree from Frostburg State College, said his widow, Bonnie Dubel.

The two met in 1964 while teachers at Francis Scott Key High School in Carroll County. They married five years later.

"He had a big booming voice," said Dubel's wife, a guidance counselor at Fallston High School. "He was so enthusiastic in all of his roles."

Before moving to Harford, Dubel served as vice principal atKey and Westminster high schools.

In Harford, he was principal atHavre de Grace and Aberdeen high schools before moving to the county's largest school, C. Milton Wright.

"He was very much a history buff and he liked to play all the parts, especially Franklin Roosevelt," Bonnie Dubel said.

The educator was ill with bronchitis during his last two weeks. His condition worsened over the weekend when he developed myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.

Colleagues said the principal instilled a new level of school spirit at C. Milton Wright by organizing an in-school pep rally before homecoming last year. The school also sponsored its first chemical-free graduation with a party aboard a tour boat on the Chesapeake Bay.

Other innovations included breakfasts saluting honor students and commercial sponsorsof the school and the first outdoor graduation ceremonies.

He made a point of spending all three lunch periods in the cafeteria with students and greeted them every morning as they entered the school, Reynolds recalled.

One of Dubel's final legacies was a rotating schedule that shifted periods around each week so students don't miss crucial class time when they take off for sports and other extracurricular activities.

"He was very close to the kids and they're going tomiss him," Hauck said. "He was their friend and he knew it."

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that condolences be made in the form of contributions to the Thomas T. Dubel Scholarship fund.

For information, call Philip Hauck at 879-1560.

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