RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News spoke with shocked colleagues of Principal Riddick Parker of George Wythe High School who died suddenly while riding a bicycle Friday morning.
Parker was a giant in this community. The families of George Wythe High School are feeling the pain of this loss and his colleagues tell us he will be sorely missed. According to those who knew him, Parker will be remembered for his humble personality, his hard work and the vision he had for his students.
Beyond his achievements as an educator, Parker was also a former NFL player who had even won a super bowl. However, many people 8News spoke with said words can’t begin to express who he was beyond the titles and accolades.
When School Board member Stephanie Rizzi of Richmond Public School heard the news, she said she was shocked.
“I screamed,” Rizzi said.
Another board member, Dr. Shona Harris-Muhammed said she had a similar reaction.
“Just the entire RPS family is in a state of shock,” Harris-Muhammed said.
Parker, in just a year as the principal of George Wythe, had made a tremendous impact on the lives of many. He came aboard as principal at a tumultuous time in the school’s history. At that time, there was controversy over the construction of a new school building while the current one was more than 50 years old. There was also a reportedly high dropout rate for the school on Richmond’s southside.
“He really really worked. He was doing the job of like 10 people,” said Rizzi. “His energy was always positive. He never complained. He was a positive problem solver.”
Harris-Muhammed said she remembered talking with Parker about the challenges of being a leader.
“He encouraged my spirit about hanging in there,” she said. “We were just having a really great conversation and I had seen his heart.”
A heart that will be missed by many in the community, a life gone too soon. School officials confirm the 49-year-old principal died while riding his bicycle this morning.
“Mr. Parker gave his full heart & soul to the students of Wythe and will be dearly missed,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras in the announcement this morning.
Details of Riddick Parker’s memorial service will be forthcoming.