Keeping his memory alive

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

On Dec. 2, area residents lost a friend, family member, colleague and mentor.

Former Randolph-Henry High School (R-HHS) history teacher John Noel passed away and while others describe him in many positive ways, I also had the opportunity to personally be taught by Noel during my time at R-HHS.

Noel was a distinguished man of knowledge, especially on the subject of history and I vividly remember him sponsoring the newly formed guitar club at the school during that time.

Being a musician myself, I had no idea Noel enjoyed the guitar and had previously played in a band until that moment.

After that, I not only saw Noel as a teacher, but as someone with whom I shared a common interest.

According to his obituary, Noel, 70, was currently a resident of Charlotte Court House, however he was born in Farmville on March 25, 1948.

“He loved to play guitar and in his youth played in a band, ‘The Satisfactions,’ and continued to play all his life. He was quite the athlete, playing football in high school and college. He served his country for 23 years as a submariner in the Navy as a Russian linguist. His shipmates knew him as ‘Tovs,’” said the obituary.

After retiring from the service, the obituary said he taught for 25 years.

“I worked with John Noel as a fellow teacher and as his principal. Mr. Noel had an obvious passion for teaching and working with young people,” said former Randolph-Henry High School Principal and Current Assistant Superintendent Robbie Mason. “He had high expectations for student learning and behavior, but at the same time, he was compassionate and understood the difficulties that students face. Mr. Noel was a great mentor for students and a great friend to his colleagues.”

Mason said Noel retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

A famous quote by Eduardo Galeano said, “history never really says goodbye. History says, ‘see you later.’”

I believe Noel, with his love of history, would find this quote to be interesting.

For those who have been influenced by Noel during his time, this quote should serve as a reminder to keep the memory of Noel alive through his countless good deeds and time served in the Charlotte County Public School System.

Italia Gregory is community editor of The Gazette. Her email address is