Edgar S. Massey Jr., a Baltimore County educator for 26 years who, as principal of Lansdowne Middle School, was considered a "top of the rung" administrator, died Thursday of cancer at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 48.
Mr. Massey of Catonsville became principal of Lansdowne Middle in 1995. He was known by students and teachers as an educator who went out of his way to get to know all those at the school and learn about their lives.
"He truly cared about everyone at the school," said Kris Marino, an English teacher for three years. "That was just the way he was."
Considered a "people person" who preferred being in the hallways or classrooms rather than his office, Mr. Massey roamed the corridors to talk to students and often sat in on classes.
Colleagues said he enjoyed give and take with students but knew where to draw the line. And he seemed ever optimistic.
"There wasn't a job that he would not participate in or nothing that he would not do," said Donald Weglein, Lansdowne's assistant principal. "He only stayed in his office when he had to. He was top of the rung."
Mr. Massey was a stickler for discipline who stressed respect among students and between students and teachers.
One of his ways of grabbing troubled students' attention was to get them into his office for a "refocus" session. Once there, he'd do what he'd call his "King Lear" bit, dropping his voice and giving the youngster a stern lecture.
"Before he'd go in, he'd say, 'I'm going to do my King Lear,' " Mr. Weglein said. "It wasn't very theatric, just effective."
A native of Washington, Mr. Massey earned a bachelor's degree from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg in 1972 and a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1977.
His teaching career began in 1972 when he taught English at the former Johnnycake Junior High School in Westview. He later taught at the former Catonsville Junior High and Catonsville High (he was also soccer and basketball coach at Catonsville High) before he was named assistant principal at Arbutus Middle School.
He later became assistant principal at the former Johnnycake Middle School before being named principal at the Iverness Center.
As a tribute, many Lansdowne students are collecting money to plant a tree and place a plaque at the school.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Clement I Roman Catholic Church, 2700 Washington Ave. in Lansdowne.
He is survived by his wife, the former Barbara Chandler, whom he married in 1977; two daughters, Julia Massey and Catherine Massey, both of Catonsville; and a sister, Patricia Redmond of Falls Church, Va.
Pub Date: 5/10/98