ATHENS, Texas (KETK) – Athens ISD announced the death of Superintendent Blake Stiles. He passed away at the age of 45 on Wednesday morning at the UT Health hospital in Athens.
To support the Athens Hornet family, the district is asking everyone to fly Hornet flags as a sign of support and love for the Stiles family.
Visitation is set at Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens.
- Saturday, May 16 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Sunday, May 17 12:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The funeral is a graveside service which will be held at 2:00 p.m. at Miners Cemetery in McCurtain, Oklahoma.
Those who knew him said the news of his passing shocked the whole community.
“There is a sadness. The whole community is uniting we all feel the same thing. Shock. To know that our leader has fallen to know that left behind is still that great team that he established at the administration. To know we’re going to be okay that the excellence that he had will still continue,” said Juan Morena, Athens ISD teacher.
One student said he was a great leader who always lifted other up with his words of encouragement.
“He would always tell me like never doubt myself and to always work hard and to never give up so that’s what would be like very memorable about him,” said Naomi Payne, Athens High School student.
Stiles leaves behind a wife Claudia and two children in Athens ISD, Taylor and Jaxson. His daughter Taylor is also a graduating senior and the class valedictorian.
Mr. Stiles came to Athens in 2011 after spending eight years at Howe High School where he served two years as an assistant principal and another six as a principal. He also spent several years as a teacher and coach before moving into administrative work.
He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma and Master of Education Administration and Supervision Degree at the University of Houston.
Mr. Stiles began a school board-approved medical leave beginning April 6 in anticipation of a heart procedure he recently underwent and has anticipated returning to work in the next few weeks. His cause of death is likely heart-related, according to Athens ISD.
In a recent note, Mr. Stiles shared his pride with the AISD family saying, “You all are doing remarkable work during circumstances that are largely out of our control and constantly evolving. This is hard. It’s hard for you, for our students and for their parents. I want you to know you are seen and appreciated. What you do is important. What you do matters.”