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Longtime Jessamine educator dies

Herbert H. "Pete" Royse Jr., who spent 43 years working in the Jessamine County school system, died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 68.

"He was the kind of person that just invested himself in the people that he worked with," said Superintendent Lu Young.

Mr. Royse, a 1958 graduate of Nicholasville High School, taught science in the school system for two years, then moved on to administration in 1968, serving for many years as the district's assistant superintendent for business and finance.

Young said she knew of no one in the state who was more knowledgeable about public school finance and facilities.

After his formal retirement, Mr. Royse continued working for the district as a consultant, overseeing school construction and renovation projects during the largest building boom in the district's history. During the 2003-04 school year, he served as interim superintendent.

"He was just so wise and efficient in what he did," said Karl Smith, chairman of the Jessamine County school board. "He saw a need that the district had, and he said, 'OK, I'll do it.'"

On May 6, the school board renamed the central office building in Mr. Royse's honor.

Making the change required a special meeting and an amendment to board policy, which had previously prohibited buildings from being named after individuals.

"It's a good policy, but you don't find an individual come along like this frequently," Smith said, adding that Mr. Royse's faith and character were his most notable traits. "Pete Royse had a heart for God and a heart for people."

"He was extremely well-respected," said his son, David Royse. "That was never his motivation. He did what was right because it was right."

In addition to David Royse, Mr. Royse is survived by his wife, Mary Sue Willis Royse, and another son, Mark J. Royse.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday at Betts and West Funeral Home in Nicholasville. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.