Walter Henry Jr., 70, who served in the D.C. Public Schools as a teacher and administrator for 33 years before retiring in 1991 as an assistant superintendent, died of prostate cancer Aug. 9 at Washington Hospital Center. He lived in the District.
Mr. Henry, who was principal of Burrville Elementary School from 1970 to about 1989, was called an "educational pied piper" in a 1981 article in The Washington Post. The story told of the school's successes under Mr. Henry and of his hands-on approach to school management.
The story related how he secured enormous parent involvement in the school and how he constantly sought better books and the best teachers for his students.
He told The Post that in a day that ran from 7:45 a.m. to after 5 p.m., he pushed his office work back to 3 p.m. so he could patrol the halls, playground and lunchroom, as well as visit classes. Students and classes received school-wide praise for such accomplishments as having the best attendance that day or having the most students wearing the red and white school colors.
During his years at Burrville, Mr. Henry was said to have received a score of principal-of-the-year awards and was cited for his work by numerous groups from the D.C. Council to PTA groups. His school received awards for testing excellence and was cited by the U.S. Education Department as a Blue Ribbon school.
After serving as Burrville principal, Mr. Henry served as an education director in the central office and served his final two years as an assistant superintendent. Over the years, he had worked on curriculum development projects, taken part in a cultural exchange program in Japan, and represented the D.C. schools at various conferences.
Mr. Henry, who was born in South Carolina, grew up in Washington and graduated from Dunbar High School. A 1958 graduate of D.C. Teachers College, he received a master's degree in education administration from George Washington University and did graduate work in business administration at the University of Maryland. He served in the Army during the Korean War.
He began his teaching career in 1958 as a teacher at Garfield Elementary and later taught at LaSalle Elementary. He also was a demonstration teacher and then taught at D.C. Teachers College and supervised student teachers before serving as assistant principal of McGogney Elementary School in 1966 and 1967.
During his teaching years, he was the recipient of a National Science and Engineering Society outstanding science teacher award.
Mr. Henry had served on the board of Children's Hospital and was a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Washington.
Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Rosa, a son, Stephen L., and a daughter, Dr. Judith C. Henry, all of Washington.