Larry Yeghoian was larger than life.
The retired Colusa Unified School District superintendent and local volunteer died unexpectedly last month, devastating a community who was so used to his presence.
Yeghoian spent 39 years as an educator, coach, and school administrator, 11 of which were at the helm of Colusa schools. He enriched the lives of students, dedicated himself to family and community, and served as an example to all, said Colusa Unified officials last week.
The school board honored Yeghoian on Sept. 23 with a resolution recognizing his efforts, caring, and commitment to the students of the district. The board also authorized the renaming of the Colusa High School athletic field as a memorial to his commitment to establish and promote a positive instructional environment, which included athletics.
“He was a huge champion for getting the football field funded,” said School Board President Melissa Yerxa Ortiz.
Yeghoian was a 1972 graduate of California State University, in Fresno. He came to Colusa in June of 2001, replacing Linda Tweeto-Johnson as Colusa Unified School District superintendent.
Unlike previous school administrators, Yeghoian believed athletic participation had a favorable influence on student academic achievement, in addition to their psychological well-being and physical health. He immediately began working with the Colusa (Redskins) Athletic Foundation to bring Colusa football from the fairgrounds to the high school campus.
“We played our first game on the new field in 2005,” said Perry Taylor, who was president of the foundation at the time. “If it wasn’t for Larry, I don’t think we ever would have moved.”
The following year, Yeghoian secured additional grant funding for permanent lights and bleachers, and continued, during his tenure, to encourage the school board to contribute financially toward athletic programs. He and Colusa County Hall of Fame Coach Dave Dana (1929-2017) also personally paid for the purchase of personalized football jerseys for the athletes to keep.
“It was a huge deal for the Athletic Foundation,” said Taylor, a longtime CUSD employee. “Larry was a really great man.”
Yeghoian retired from the district in 2012, but continued to remain active in the community. He was a member of the Colusa Lions Club, and integral in organizing the annual Christmas Tyme in Colusa celebration, Easter Egg hunt at the Colusa County Fairgrounds, cooking at various fundraisers, and putting out the American Flags that lined the streets of Colusa on holidays.
“He championed everything,” said Colusa Unified Trustee Michael Phenicie. “He will be greatly missed.”
Yeghoian was also a regular at local car shows with his 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, and was an avid fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 2014, Yeghoian was presented the Colusa Alumni Association’s “You Inspired Me” award, and his name is forever etched on the inspiration wall at the football field.
Last week, the Colusa Alumni Association made Yeghoian – who donated countless hours to help the association develop and continue to produce a newsletter – an honorary member.
The CSA said Yeghoian was a very unique individual, a talented friend of the community, and that he would be hard to replace.
“His love for our community was not limited to his work for our school district,” the CAA said. ■