Quincy Damon Gasque, 81, superintendent of the Warren and Rappahannock county school systems during Virginia's desegregation crisis of the late 1950s, died March 8 at Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal. He had a heart ailment.
Mr. Gasque was the principal of Warren High School from 1925 to 1945. In 1945, he was named head of the Warren and Rappahannock school district. In 1958, a federal judge ordered the integration of Warren High. At that point, the laws Virginia had passed to provide "massive resistance" to integration went into operation.
These laws said state funds must be withheld from any school system in which integration occurred. In Warren County, where the school board relied on the state for 40 percent of its $800,000 annual budget, the schools were closed. Several other schools around the state also were closed.
Some local leaders favored replacing the public system with private, segregated education. Mr. Gasque shared the view of ministers and some other community leaders that local school boards should have the option of providing integrated public education without losing state monies.
"If the local school board and the local people could work out this thing without interference with the state or federal government, we could get the school open," Mr. Gasque said. "I think that if integration can be handled in Virginia, it is more likely it can be handled in an area such as this than in one more heavily populated by Negroes."
In 1959, the "massive resistance" laws having been struck down, Warren High opened peacefully with 20 black students and about half the previous number of white students.
Mr. Gasque was born in Walterboro, S.C. He graduated from The Citadel and earned a master's degree in education at the University of Virginia. He taught at Randolph-Macon Military Academy in Front Royal before beginning his career at Warren High. After resigning as school superintendent in 1961, he was an official of James Madison University until his second retirement in 1966.
He was a trustee of Warren Memorial Hospital and Lord Fairfax Community College, a director of the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the administrative board of the United Methodist Church in Front Royal and a past president of the Front Royal Rotary Club.
Survivors include his wife, Ruth Beaty Gasque of Front Royal; two daughters, Jeanne Sandidge of Manassas, and Quincy Butler of Falls Church; two sisters, Mrs. W. H. Finkbeiner and Mrs. J. W. Copeland III, both of Laurens, S.C., and six grandchildren.