The flag at Trinity Valley Community College is at half-staff today as the school mourns the passing of Vice President of Student Services Dr. W.P. “Rip” Drumgoole.
Drumgoole served the college and the Athens community for almost four decades. He died Thursday morning at East Texas Medical Center-Athens following a long battle with cancer. He was 61.
A native of Jefferson, he began his career with TVCC in 1973 as a full-time counselor. He served as guidance services coordinator and director of counseling before being named vice president of Student Affairs in 1980. The title later changed to vice president of Student Services. He also served as the college’s director of athletics for the 2009-10 school year.
“To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, Rip fought a good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith,” said TVCC President Dr. Glendon Forgey in a written statement Thursday morning to the college staff.
“Rip worked tirelessly for TVCC and our community. His contributions have been invaluable and it has been our good fortune to be able to learn from his experience.”
Forgey said Drumgoole will be remembered for his dedication to the college and the community, his unwavering loyalty to a variety of local causes and his passion for all aspects of education.
Many of his co-workers also called him friend, and say the Athens area has lost one of its best.
“He was a mentor to me and was a mentor to all the people who were around in my early years,” said TVCC Vice President of Instruction Dr. Jerry King, who began his career at the college two years after Drumgoole. “We all looked up to Rip because he was such a professional and was so enthusiastic about helping students and helping the college.”
King said Drumgoole’s dedication to the students of TVCC was inspirational.
“He enjoyed what he did and being here was important to him. He made a difference in so many lives. He had such an impact on all those people and their lives and there’s no way to count the number of people’s lives he changed in a positive way.
“He’s going to be very much missed. I know we’ll continue on here at the college, but it won’t be the same.”
A 1968 graduate of Central High School in Jefferson, Texas, Drumgoole received his bachelor’s degree from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce) in 1972. He received his master’s degree from there the following year and his doctorate in 1980, also from ETSU.
Drumgoole was an active member of many civic and professional organizations, including the Athens Rotary Club, Community College Chief Student Affairs Administrators of Texas and Junior College Student Personnel Association of Texas.
He was also a longtime member of the Cain Center Board of Directors, the Athens Economic Development Corporation, the East Texas Arboretum and the Henderson County Girls Softball Association.
“He was really dedicated to everything he did,” said Mike Peek, an instructor at TVCC who served many years as director of Student Activities.
“To me, his involvement in the girls’ softball association was something that stands out. He got involved when his daughter was playing. Most people get out when their children are done, but he stayed in there for many years after his daughter was long gone and was president for many years.
“It is a monumental task to run that kind of group, but it was so easy because Rip was the constant. What is amazing to me is he stayed on and he didn’t take a back seat. He stayed in the front seat and was dedicated.”
Drumgoole also served more than 25 years as a high school football official was a member of the Texas Association of Sports Officials. He officiated five state championship football games and in 2007 was selected to officiate in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game.
Peek officiated for many years on the same team as Drumgoole, along with Henderson County Tax Assessor/Collector Milburn Chaney and the late Wayne Boozer.
“He enjoyed calling those games, and it was an honor not only to get to call regular games, but to be invited to call state championship games,” said Peek. Drumgoole called games up until the end of the 2010 season.
Peek said Drumgoole had a heart for athletics and for activity in general. He was instrumental in the construction of the pavilion behind Cardinal Gym around five years ago, said Peek, because he believed students needed a place to play basketball after classes. He was also instrumental in the addition of softball to the college, said Peek. During his year as athletic director, he oversaw the addition of volleyball to the college’s list of programs.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Espanola. Earlier this year, the college dedicated a scholarship fund in her name.
Drumgoole is survived by two children – Carmen Drumgoole and Rashaan Drumgoole. He also has two grandchildren.