Archive for Sunday, November 16, 2008

Educator recalled as a caring gentleman

November 16, 2008


Orvel Criqui came to Lawrence to work in elementary education, then became principal at the city's lone junior high school before moving on to open its newest school, South Junior High, back in 1968.

And throughout his 31 years working in the Lawrence school district, Criqui did it all with the utmost respect, care and high expectations for students, parents, staff and anyone else responsible for the future of the community, state and country.

"Dr. Criqui was always a gentleman, always a gentleman," said Dan Neuenswander, who was district superintendent when Criqui retired in 1986. "He treated his staff well, liked kids, worked well with parents - and he always made his decisions based on what he truly felt was best for kids."

Criqui died Wednesday at Brandon Woods at Alvamar. He was 84.

Maybe it was his military background or his deep voice, or simply because of his tall stature, but Criqui cut an imposing figure.

"A lot of people were afraid of him," said Margaret Akins, whom Criqui - then principal at Central - hired as a math teacher in 1963. "He looked like he could've been mean, but he wasn't. He was an absolute sweetheart. He cared. He cared about his staff, just like he cared about his family."

If a teacher became sick and had to go home or to the hospital, Criqui always made sure someone was available to help, said Gladys Sanders, who taught math at South while Criqui was principal.

"It was more like a small family working together when he was principal," said Sanders, who worked for Criqui for nine years. "It was fun going to work. He was an inspiration for me."

Randy Weseman, who will retire at the end of this year as superintendent of Lawrence schools, took over as principal at South upon Criqui's retirement. And he knew he was succeeding not only a strong educator, but also an exceptional person.

"He was a man of many talents," Weseman said. "He was a writer. He was a historian. He could talk at length about any subject, being well-read and having a real love of learning. He was just a real strong intellect and a great guy. :

"If Orvel could comment on his life, he'd say he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish and had a chance to experience the things he wanted to experience."


reason 9 years, 5 months ago

Dr Criqui was my principal at South and yes he was a kind and gentle man, he would always speak in a mild and gentle voice, he was the one that would always give me a break at school and listen to my side and yes he would straighten me out too !!!, yes i was a trouble maker!!! but I could always talk to Criqui he knew my family well and would always see the good in me and never tell the rotten side of me to my folks which as a teen it was nice to have him as a role model,--I would see him at stores,doctors ect. over the years and he never forgets his students and he loved the building at South and was sad to see it go but he said he knew it was time --he would laugh about all the kids that used to jump and run their hands across those asbstos ceilings, i will miss seeing him and being one of his former students..

Nonsense 9 years, 5 months ago

He was a true gentlemen. If you ever had a chance to talk to him, his knowledge and wisdom was inspiring.

number3of5 9 years, 5 months ago

Dr.Criqui taught one of my teachers education classes at Haskell Indian Nations University. He was always there to listen to you. He did expect the five of us students to act as adults. He expected us to be on time and be prepared for class. I think he was a great educator and man.

yellowhouse 9 years, 5 months ago

The Dashcopyright 1996 Linda EllisI read of a man who stood to speakat the funeral of a friend.He referred to the dates on his tombstonefrom the the end.He noted that first came the date of his birthand spoke of the following date with tears,but he said what mattered most of allwas the dash between those years.For that dash represents all the timethat he spent alive on earth...and now only those who loved himknow what that little line is worth.For it matters not, how much we own;the cars....the house...the cash.What matters is how we live and loveand how we spend our dash.So think about this long and hard...are there things you'd like to change?For you never know how much time is leftthat can still be rearranged.If we could just slow down enoughto consider what's true and real,and always try to understandthe way other people feel.And be less quick to anger,and show appreciation moreand love the people in our liveslike we've never loved before.If we treat each other with respect,and more often wear a smile...remembering that this special dashmight only last a little while.So, when your eulogy is being readwith your life's actions to rehash...would you be proud of the things theysay about how you spend your dash?

onrywmn 9 years, 5 months ago

The first time I met Dr. Criqui was when I was in kindergarten at Woodlawn Elementary and he was the principal. He was so tall that I thought he was a giant at first. I found out he was a gentle giant who really cared about kids. Then I had the lucky pleasure to attend Central Jr. High when he was the principal there. He was so friendly to everyone and had the respect of all the students. I grew up and had a daughter of my own. She was lucky enough to attend South Jr. High when he was the principal there. She enjoyed her time there in part because of the atmosphere he created in the school. She is so happy that she got a chance to get her picture taken with Dr. Criqui at her 9th grade recognition. It is one of her cherished photos from her time there. After he retired, my husband and I would see him around town and he always had a smile and hello for us. What a wonderful man. He will truly be missed!

Cynthia Schott 9 years, 5 months ago

I had the pleasure of having Dr. Criqui as the Principal of Central Junior High School. Everyone liked him! He also devoted a lot of time at the Douglas County Historical Society doing research to preserve our history in Lawrence and Douglas County.Cindy Schott Hutchison

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