The Palos Verdes Peninsula school board's meeting abruptly ended at 1:30 a.m. when consultant Frank Ferguson collapsed at the witness table as he was presenting five-year projections on district enrollment.
Shocked school officials and teachers, many of whom had known Ferguson, 65, as a district administrator before his retirement in 1978, attended him until paramedics arrived. He died several hours later at Torrance Memorial Hospital during surgery for a burst blood vessel in his abdomen.
Ferguson was hired from the El Segundo Unified School District as assistant principal of the newly opened Palos Verdes High School in 1961. He was later principal at Rolling Hills High School, where flags were lowered in his memory Tuesday, and then worked as the district's assistant business manager until he retired and moved to Poway near San Diego.
"Frank was one of those rare men who saw the best in people and liked everybody," said Deputy Supt. Jon Knickerbocker, a longtime family friend. "He was very special."
Services will be at 2 p.m. Friday in Poway. Ferguson is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their two children, Terri and Tim.