Former superintendent described as mentor

From the Illinois Association of School Administrators

Dr. Walter H. Warfield, superintendent of Mattoon Community Unit School District 2 from 1984-1988 and the IASA’s Executive Director from 1992 to 2006, lost his battle with cancer and passed away Tuesday at the age of 74.

Dr. Warfield was a respected educator and trusted leader who led an extraordinary life and had an amazing career that spanned five decades. He will be deeply missed and our heart goes out to his wife, Cathy, three children, Christy, Jason and Jennifer, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mark Nelson, transportation director, Mattoon schools, worked with Warfield when Warfield served as Mattoon school superintendent.  He described Warfield as a mentor and a leader who took time to listen to employees.

“Walt appeared in Mattoon as I was finishing up my Master’s Degree and working at the high school,” said Nelson.   “I didn't realize it at the time, but he did a wonderful job of mentoring me.  He carefully guided the district through some difficult times in the mid 1980’s. Even when his plate was way past full, he always had time to talk.  I wanted to be a successful administrator like him. He had a calm demeanor even in the toughest of times and that is a trait that I hope I have carried forward in my career. Walt Warfield made a difference in countless lives of students, and staff in the public school system. He will be missed.”

The family plans to hold a private funeral service. If you would like to send a card in care of the IASA Office (2648 Beechler Ct., Springfield 62703), we will forward your condolences to the Warfield Family.

In 1992, Dr. Warfield was named the fourth executive director of IASA, which was founded in 1964. During his 14 years of leadership, the association expanded services, sustained growth in membership and experienced financial stability. 

In 2006, the Board of Directors established the Dr. Walter H. Warfield and Dr. Jacob S. Broncato AAC Scholarship to expand professional development opportunities to administrators.

IASA Executive Director Dr. Brent Clark said Dr. Warfield was a trusted mentor and friend. His commitment and dedication to IASA allowed the association to grow into what it has become today. 

“Nobody supported and believed more in the impact a superintendent could have on students than Walt,” Dr. Clark said. “He poured his heart and soul into making this association stronger so it could better support superintendents and help them expand their leadership capacity.”

Before leading IASA, Dr. Warfield served as superintendent of three school districts: Decatur Public Schools (1988-1992), Mattoon Community Unit District (1984-1988) and Fairfield Community High School District (1978-1984). He attended Southern Illinois University and later Illinois State University, where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1978.

After retiring from IASA in 2006, Dr. Warfield joined the University of Illinois Springfield faculty in the College of Education and Human Services. As Scholar-in-Residence, he taught graduate level courses in the Educational Leadership Program.

Dr. Warfield will always be remembered as a kind and compassionate person who always thought of others first, and as someone who deeply loved his wife and family. He will forever be in our thoughts.