Personal Tribute
A Farewell to AASA's Marathon Man, Peter Corona
By JAY P. GOLDMAN/School Administrator, June 2019


Peter Corona earned perfect attendance at the past 62 AASA national conferences. He died Feb. 28 at age 90.
I’VE BEEN to the last 30 AASA national conferences as a staff member, which seems like a lot. But then you have to realize that Peter Corona has me beat by a multiple of two — and then some. He’s participated in the past 62 of our association’s national events, ever since coming as a 29-year-old doctoral student in 1958. He’s not missed one since.

Sadly, our association learned recently that Peter passed away at age 90 on Feb. 28 — less than two weeks after many of us greeted him warmly at AASA’s 2019 National Conference on Education in Los Angeles. His wife Yolanda said he died of a massive stroke at home in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Anyone who has worked at AASA for any length of time — and certainly any staff member who has worked at an AASA national conference — recognized the name and the face and the indelibly upbeat and effusive manner he carried with him. There was no more dedicated follower of AASA.

We’ve published a lot about him over the years in School Administrator magazine. You can read about his professional accomplishments in a February 2007 profile and his recollections of a lifetime of involvement in our special February 2015 issue marking the 150th anniversary of AASA. His last presence in our pages came in last June’s Leadership Lite, a cute item about the three-mornings-a-week fitness class for senior citizens he continued to teach right up to his death.

At every AASA conference that I worked in Orlando, New Orleans, San Antonio, Denver, Phoenix and other cities, Peter’s first stop at the convention center always was our temporary newsroom for the daily conference news publication. He’d check in on us, bring us up to date on his personal fitness activities (for years, he was the leading champion of the early morning walk/run events at AASA conferences) and compliment us on our work.

“We knew the annual conference had really convened when Pete walked through the press room door,” said Gary Marx, who directed our association’s communications work for 20 years.

Denise Childs, a former colleague who managed speaker registration at several AASA conferences, recounted how Peter, noticing her pregnant condition one year, touched base with her every few hours, asking if she needed water or anything else. “He would always stop by and see if I needed him to moderate any sessions,” she said. “The reviews of him moderating always came back with such positive comments.”

Toward the end of each national conference, Pete would stop by our newsroom to describe the excellent experiences he’d had and to declare “this year’s conference was the best ever.” When we chatted on his last day this past February, I reminded him we’d be meeting again in San Diego, his hometown, in a year. (He didn’t really need my reminder of where we’d be then.) As my magazine colleague Liz Griffin aptly put it: “That he didn’t miss any AASA conferences before he died is just how he would have liked it.”

She’s right, but my conference experience next February is going to have a very big empty feeling.

JAY GOLDMAN is editor of AASA’s School Administrator magazine and Conference Daily Online. Twitter: @jpgoldman