Rickey Fayne, one of the most influential, well-known and well-liked people involved in local education and the community at large, died on Oct. 25. He was 67.
According to his friends, co-workers and people he mentored throughout his 34 years employed by Tipton County Schools, Fayne was always dispensing wise advice, mentoring students and blazing a path that countless younger educators followed.
Cetrice Bounds, who is now principal at the Alternative Learning Center and Teen Learning Center in Covington, was a student at Drummonds Elementary when Fayne was principal there.
“Through the years, he became a mentor and, just to be honest, he was more like a member of my family,” Bounds said. “Mr. Fayne played a major role in helping to mold and encourage a countless number of students’ lives and career choices. Under his leadership, we felt like a family. From basketball and football games to May Day (field day), the faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders knew we had a special leader.”
James Fields, a close friend of Fayne for more than three decades, is the Tipton County Schools director of operation, a leadership position Fayne held for many years before retiring.
“Rickey went out of his way to help people,” Fields said. “He was very loyal to the school system and provided opportunities to many that otherwise would not have been given a chance. I am grateful for our relationship.”
“Mr. Fayne was influential to both the community in general and the educational community,” said Thomas Hayes, another man who worked with Fayne for many yeaers. “He formed many relationships, mentored many people, and changed countless lives in Tipton County.”
Fayne graduated in 1972 from Brighton High School, where he was a standout student, basketball player and Mr. Brighton High School. While at Memphis State, from which he graduated cum laude in 1976, he was a member of the basketball team that starred Larry Finch and made it to the NCAA title game.
He quickly climbed the ladder in Tipton County Schools. As director of operations, one step below director of schools, he served as chief negotiator for TCS during salary negotiations with the teachers’ union.
Marcus Heaston, a longtime educator in Tipton County who know serves as the system’s workforce development coordinator, remembers some of Fayne’s most famous quotes he liked to tell friends in need.
Here are three of his most famous: “You gonna either sink or swim,” “Pay it forward, Heaston” and “To whom much is given, much is required.”
“Outside of my own father, Mark Heaston, along with Mr. Isaiah Davidson, Mr. Rickey Fayne has had the greatest impact on my life,” Heaston said. “He saw potential in me and supported, critiqued and pushed me to be the leader that I am today. I can write a book on what Mr. Fayne has done in terms of public education and leadership throughout Tennessee.”
When Bounds’ father died, Fayne’s charitable nature was revealed once again.
“Mr. Fayne embraced many families on many occasions,” Bounds said. “When my father died in 2010, he gathered several educators, purchased food and they made a personal trip to visit my family to offer their condolences. He genuinely cared for people.”