Richland 1’s first black superintendent dies at 87, district says

When John R. Stevenson graduated high school, schools in the South were still segregated.

More than 30 years later, he became Richland 1’s first black superintendent, a position at which he served for eight years.

Stevenson, 87, died Sunday, the school district said Tuesday.

Stevenson served for 38 years in the district as a teacher, principal, administrator and as superintendent from 1986-1994, according to The State’s archives. During his time as superintendent, he implemented programs for gifted students and bolstered the district’s adult education program, according to a release from the district.

“Of the many administrators to fill those ‘central office’ jobs, I always thought he was the most capable, and certainly the most caring, of them all,” former Richland 1 employee Clifton Harkey said of Stevenson in a 1994 letter to the editor. “I truly believe that one reason for his success has been his humility, a hard-to-find quality in people in high office.”

The district has honored Stevenson by naming the administrative building after him and inducting him into the district’s hall of fame in 2004, the release said.

Funeral services for Stevenson will be held Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 6717 David St., according to the release.