EAST PROVIDENCE — The unexpected passing of former East Providence Schools Superintendent John DeGoes earlier this week was a jarring blow to many in the community, especially those who were closely allied with him during his two stints guiding the school department.
Dr. DeGoes, 77, was Superintendent of Schools in East Providence for the first and longest time from 1987-94. He was asked back to fill the position temporarily during the 2012-13 term by then School Committee Chairman Charlie Tsonos and with the city under the direction of the state-appointed Budget Commission.
“I knew John very well. It’s one of the reasons why I reached out to him to see if he would serve as the interim superintendent,” Mr. Tsonos said. “Like everyone who knew him, I was deeply saddened by the news of his passing. It truly was sudden. When I called John a couple of years ago to see if he would consider taking the position, there was no hesitation on his part. It was a very difficult time in East Providence, and he was eager to offer his services to the city.”
Dr. DeGoes had a great affinity for his adopted hometown. He lived in the Rumford section of the city with his wife, Jeanne, for the last 25 years.
“When John came back the second time, he knew it was a very uncertain, unstable time in the school department. Morale was low. People weren’t feeling very good about education in this city,” Mr. Tsonos added. “John was a familiar face, a familiar voice. And he was able to scrape and meld things together as best he could to help settle the situation and allow us to move forward.”
During his seven-year stay in the superintendent’s chair in the late 1980s and early 90s, Dr. DeGoes hired a great number of personnel still working in the system, including East Providence High School History teacher and State Representative from District 65, Gregg Amore.
“It was a shock, very sad news,” Rep. Amore said of Dr. DeGoes’ death. “He holds a very special place with me. He hired me as a teacher. He was a very good man, well respected and a great educator.”
Mr. Tsonos echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a real loss. We’re going to miss him. He was the type of person who made you feel proud to be associated with education,” Mr. Tsonos said. “People of his quality, we were lucky to have him. When he was here the last time, he combined the best of the ‘old school’ and the new to meet the needs of the school department.
“We will profoundly miss him, his integrity and his dedication. He was the consummate professional. I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends and colleagues.”