Lewis J. Vanderzyl - Longtime RUSD Educator, Administrator and Board Member Passes

Lewis J. Vanderzyl - Longtime RUSD Educator, Administrator and Board Member Passes
Posted on 03/01/2018
Lewis J. Vanderzyl

It is with a very heavy heart that RUSD notes the passing of Lewis J. Vanderzyl, one of RUSD’s most dear and treasured family members. Lewis spent decades as a teacher and then administrator in RUSD schools, before serving 17 years as a Board Member.


“He was a true educator, who never forgot he was a teacher first,” said Kathy Allavie, current Clerk for the RUSD Board, who served with Vanderzyl before his retirement in 2011. “He was always kind, always a gentleman, and always thought of the good of our district first and foremost.”


Vanderzyl may be best remembered as the Board President who, in 1998, ignored the national controversy that swarmed the District and fought vehemently to name RUSD’s new school, in an affluent suburban neighborhood, after Martin Luther King, Jr.


“I am very grateful for the legacy he has left: service, leadership, and courage to do what’s right,” said RUSD Superintendent Dr. David Hansen. “Lew touched many lives over the years. His leadership and friendship will certainly be missed...but remembered.”


Vanderzyl was born in Riverside in 1929 and attended Palm School, which is now the Riverside Adult School. Coincidentally, it is also the current location for RUSD Board Meetings.


“Lew was not only an instructional leader in the Riverside Unified School District and a man of enormous curiosity and intelligence, but one of my best friends,” said former Board Member Chuck Beaty. “We worked together and we served together. What a giant of a man!”


After teaching for many years, he became principal of Central Middle School before eventually serving on the Board. Overall, Vanderzyl worked in education for five decades.


Current Board Member Tom Hunt recalled the tutoring Vanderzyl gave him when he joined the Board. “I will always recall with fondness and respect the example set for how one is to serve their community by the civic leadership shown by Lew Vanderzyl,” said Hunt. 


A memorial service will be held March 10, 2018 at 2pm at the Lewis J. Vanderzyl Multipurpose Hall at Central Middle School, at 4795 Magnolia Ave. in Riverside.