Updated 10:25 p.m. March 27, 2012:
Columbia High School health and physical education teacher Mark McCombs passed away suddenly today.
McCombs died unexpectedly after a brief illness. More details will be forthcoming, according to the district. McCombs had worked in the South Orange-Maplewood School District since 1999. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
In a statement to CHS staff, Principal Dr. Lovie Lilly called McCombs a "a gentle person, a humble man, and a quiet warrior.”
Columbia High School students brought the news of the tragic event home to parents after school today and began posting their condolences and remembrances on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Osborne sent out a tweet at 5:01 p.m.:
SOMSD mourns the sudden passing of CHS PE teacher Mark McCombs. condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, students. He will be missed.
After addressing her staff, Dr. Lilly also sent an email to families of high school students:
Mark McCombs, a Health and Physical Education teacher at Columbia High School, passed away suddenly today. The district will be issuing a formal statement shortly. In the meantime, we offer our sincerest condolences to Mr. McCombs’ family, friends, colleagues and students. Mr. McCombs was an extraordinary man and he will be sorely missed.
Dr. Osborne also followed with a message to staff:
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Mark McCombs, a valued and dedicated Health and Physical Education teacher at Columbia High School. Mr. McCombs has been a teacher in SOMSD since 1999 and was a former football coach. He was well respected by both students and staff. As Dr. Lilly said when informing her staff of the sad news: “Mark has left a legacy. He was a gentle person, a humble man, and a quiet warrior.”
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife and four children.
Brian G. Osborne