Burdette W. Andrews, whose 56-year tenure running a Michigan school district had made him the nation’s longest-serving superintendent, died on March 8. He was 97 and had recently been admitted to the hospital with anemia.
Ron Bennett, who succeeded Mr. Andrews in 2002 as the head of the 1,200-student Vandercook Lake school district, said the superintendent emeritus kept an office in the district and still reported to work there two or three times a week until shortly before his death. Mr. Andrews had been writing a history of the district, Superintendent Bennett said.
Mr. Andrews, regarded as a steward of taxpayers’ money, never lost a bond referendum. He also was known around town as a poetry lover who recited verse. (“Mich. Superintendent Still on the Job At 92 and Counting,” Feb. 9, 2000.)
On Feb. 17, Mr. Bennett recalled, the district had a half-day of school. Just as most people were leaving for the day, Mr. Andrews showed up for duty. That would prove to be his last day at the office, the superintendent said.
On days when he wasn’t able to come in, Mr. Bennett said, his former boss often called him to report his whereabouts. “I said, ‘Burdette, you don’t have to do that. You just take care of Burdette.’ But that was his work ethic.”
Mr. Andrews was born in Oklahoma in 1908, the year after the territory became a state. After teaching in South Dakota and Michigan, he was hired in 1946 to run the Vandercook Lake schools. The town’s combined middle and high school campus bears his name.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2005 edition of Education Week