Samuel Hazard died in Boise at age 88 on Sept. 15, 37 years after founding what is now known as the Community School, a private school for grades PK-12 in Sun Valley.
"It's been really emotional here," Head of School Andy Jones-Wilkins said Thursday. "I've never really met Sam—I spoke to him a few times on the phone—but I just really feel his presence every day in the customs, traditions and culture of the school."
Since its founding, the school has grown from 12 students to a population this year of 290. It was originally started in the basement of the Episcopal Church in Ketchum and known as the Ketchum-Sun Valley Community School, though it was more commonly referred to then as "Sam's School."
Hazard served as headmaster until 1981, when he moved to Naples, Fla., and founded the Naples Community School. He later returned to Idaho and in 1997 helped found the Riverstone Community School in Boise.
"Sam was an education visionary for sure, who always, always put kids first, and even in the early '70s saw there was a better way to educate kids than in the mainstream system," Jones-Wilkins said. "He was an extraordinary man. This guy was something special."
Jones-Wilkins informed school faculty, students, parents and alumni of Hazard's passing in a letter distributed Wednesday.
Jones-Wilkins described Hazard in the letter as a "visionary educator and a lifelong proponent of progressive and innovative education."
"He is fondly remembered as a purposeful mentor, a warm colleague and a devoted friend. While we mourn the passing of this great man, I hope you will all join me in celebrating his remarkable legacy.
"What began innocently in the basement of the Episcopal Church in 1973 has become one of the best PK-12 independent schools in the Mountain West. It is Sam Hazard who truly deserves our heartfelt thanks."
Terry Smith: email@example.com