Rodney Jahn, deputy superintendent and a 25-year veteran of the Del Norte County Unified School District known for his professionalism and his ability to multi-task, died unexpectedly of natural causes Sunday.
He was 63.
As deputy superintendent, Jahn saw the district through good times and bad as its financial expert. But Jahn, who was on the brink of retirement, also doted on his grandchildren. He loved playing golf and riding his Harley Davidson to Jacksonville, Ore., for Britt concerts.
“He was just one of those great everyday guys,” said Crescent City Councilman Rick Holley. “He didn’t seem to be interested in the limelight. He was the rock behind the scenes.”
Holley, the district’s former personnel director, worked with Jahn for more than 20 years before retiring last year. Jahn strived to keep the district solvent, especially when services were threatened due to state funding cuts, Holley said.
“He was the hardest-working man I’d ever met and he prioritized the district, its employees and students in such a way that was most admirable,” Holley said. “When you think about it, he probably saw seven or eight superintendents come and go. He was the one constant through that whole period.”
Jan Moorehouse, the district’s superintendent from 2006 to 2011, described Jahn as her right hand. He started out at the district as director of fiscal services, she said, before being promoted to assistant superintendent and finally deputy superintendent.
In that role, Jahn oversaw the transportation, food service and maintenance departments in addition to managing the district’s finances, Moorehouse said.
“He was very approachable and very articulate when it came to helping the rest of us understand where we stood financially,” she said. “And he carefully guarded the resources of the school district to ensure we would remain solvent and independent of the state. He just did a phenomenal job of that.”
Moorehouse said Jahn was instrumental in realizing the district’s most significant accomplishment during her tenure as superintendent — a successful bond election in 2008. Jahn, who was treasurer for the bond committee, worked off the clock, during weekends, evenings and even in the early morning hours developing studies and fiscal estimates that led to Del Norte voters approving the $25 million general obligation bond.
She added that Smith River School’s new gymnasium, mostly paid for by the bond, was a “much-loved project” of Jahn’s.
“He was so looking forward to building that,” she said. “It was one of the things that kept him going was being able to be involved in that project.”
Moorehouse said she brought Jahn into the Crescent City Rotary Club as his sponsor.
John Pritchett, general manager of Del Norte Ambulance, said he met Jahn when Pritchett was editor of the Triplicate, but it was through Rotary that the two became good friends.
That friendship often took the two to the poker table and to the golf course.
Pritchett said he can remember playing golf with Jahn as he was recovering from injuries sustained in a motorcycle collision on U.S. Highway 199 last year. Jahn was airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding with injuries to his head and his hands.
“I know he was in some pain because of the hand injuries and he wasn’t playing terribly well, but you could tell he was just enjoying being out again with friends doing something he really liked,” Pritchett said. “He had a very quiet, but very intense passion for life.”
No information was available Monday about services for Jahn.