Oak Park schools trustee Bob Kahn died of complications from diabetes Monday, the day before he had hoped to be elected to a fourth term on the school board.
Supt. Marilyn Lippiatt described Kahn, 73, as a tireless advocate for students and staff who worked to develop quality arts and athletic programs in the Oak Park Unified School District. The affluent district of 3,700 students consistently earns top scores statewide on student achievement tests.
Kahn's involvement with local educational issues began in 1978 when the district was created, Lippiatt said. He was first elected to the board in 1989.
"As a board member, Bob supported students, staff and programs," Lippiatt said. "He had special interest in both the arts and athletics and was a vocal advocate for both. Bob's contributions were many, and his voice, comments and sense of history will be missed."
Ventura County Supervisor Frank Schillo, who represents unincorporated Oak Park on the Board of Supervisors, said Kahn was active in getting a new public library built on the Oak Park High School campus.
"He was outspoken about the need for a public library in Oak Park," said Schillo, adding that Kahn will be remembered at today's supervisors meeting.
"He's a real unsung hero for the service he's provided," Schillo said. "You very seldom get any praise for what you do, and all you hear is complaints from parents about what you did or what you should have done."
Kahn's public interest extended beyond education. He often attended Municipal Advisory Council meetings to learn more about other issues affecting his community, Schillo said.
Outgoing school board member Linda Seaman said Kahn, a retired insurance sales manager, was helpful to her when she joined the board six years ago.
"He was good at explaining the history behind a decision and why it was done that way," said Seaman.
Kahn's name will appear on today's ballot alongside five other candidates running for three open seats on the board. Should Kahn be among the top three vote-getters, the Oak Park school board could appoint someone to fill his seat for two years until the next general election or hold a special election in March or June.
A special election would cost the district $15,000, said county assistant registrar Bruce Bradley.