Roy Scoggins had a knack of being “the right man in the right place at the right time.”
And even though he was obviously a learned leader who earned assorted degrees in the field of education, it may have been his natural skill in motivating and getting along with others that most helped him in standing above the crowd.
Scoggins — who died Sunday in his Little Rock home at the age of 90 — became superintendent of the Pine Bluff School District in 1971, just in time to assume command as racial integration began. Unfortunately, the transition wasn’t void of problems.
Through the entire time, however, Scoggins remained steady and was “always a gentleman,” according Elgie Goss, who worked with the respected superintendent a dozen years as Pine Bluff High School’s principal.
“We went through some trying times together, and he was always the same man,” said Goss, still a Pine Bluff resident. “We were merging three high schools into one, and I was in my first year as principal. He was cool-headed and worked hard. We got through it together. He knew how to take care of business. I admired and have nothing but good memories of him.”
After helping guide the district through its early desegregation challenges, Scoggins contributed to a number of campus enhancements made possible by a millage increase that gained the public’s approval “in a time when we were told it would never pass,” Goss remembered.
“He led in part by giving his enthusiastic approval to the district teachers, who marched door-to-door throughout the district to win the support of the public,” Goss said. “The millage increase made it possible for us to give our students a number of improvements that we felt they deserved.”
Among the additions at the high school was the McGeorge Building, named in honor of school board president Harvey McGeorge, who had been killed along with his wife in a plane crash.
But while Scoggins was indeed the type to “get things done,” he also possessed a sense of humor that he sometimes utilized in relieving tense situations.
“He could smile about life,” Goss said. “He liked jokes and loved making others laugh and laughing himself. I have many memories of him that bring a smile to my face.”
Goss said he and Scoggins — whose funeral service was held Friday at First Baptist Church here — knew one another as close friends for more than half a century, first becoming acquainted during Scoggins’ 1958-61 stint as principal at the old Gabe Meyer Elementary School here, where Goss worked as a teacher.
“We were deacons together at First Baptist for many years and he was in my square dancing club,” Goss said. “He was the kind of man who made his mark on whatever he undertook, and he’ll be long remembered.”
Goss said he also appreciated Scoggins for his personal tenacity.
“He didn’t let anything stop him,” Goss said. “He lost his wife, Virginia — who had been a wonderful counselor at the high school — a while back (in 2008), and I’m sure many people will remember when their daughter, Margaret Ann, died in a fire years ago. I know he was hurt by those losses, but he kept on going.”
Glenda Lybrand of White Hall, a retired White Hall High School counselor and the wife of retired White Hall School District Superintendent Jerry Lybrand, said she and her husband enjoyed a long friendship with Scoggins and his wife.
“They were two fine educators,” Glenda Lybrand said. “We often saw one another at various meetings. Mrs. Scoggins was respected in her own right, just a special person and an outstanding counselor. And so many people in this area knew Dr. Scoggins and many worked with him through the years. Everyone looked up to him.”