Former Maywood principal drowns on Rogue River
The body of former Willows Unified School District Superintendent Ronald M. Mongini, 66, is still missing in the Rogue River in Oregon where it is presumed he drowned Thursday.
Mongini was rafting near Galice with his companion, Lane H. Gehres, 59, of Woodbridge, when he jumped into the river to save the couple’s dog.
According to news reports from the Daily Courier in Grants Pass, Mongini and Gehres were traveling on a 13- foot Sotar raft near infamous Hellgate Canyon when their white Scottish terrier jumped off sometime before 3:30 p.m.
Mongini, who was not wearing a life jacket, reportedly dove in after the dog and got caught in the river’s under current, the newspaper reported.
Passengers on a Hellgate Excursions jetboat reportedly witnessed the incident and called 911.
Gehres was not injured and the dog was rescued.
Mongini was a longtime and well known educator in Northern California.
He served as principal of Maywood Middle School in Corning before becoming principal of Willows Intermediate School in 1994, where he served for seven years.
His former wife, Shirley Mongini, was principal at Maxwell Elementary School and later worked for Williams Unified School District.
Former Willows Unified School District board member Sherry Brott said she was saddened by his death.
“He loved and cared about Willows Unified and only wanted good things for the district and the students,” Brott said.
Brott said when Mongini interviewed for the superintendent’s position after the retirement of Wayne Weatherford in 2001, he said it was his dream to serve as Willows superintendent until he retired.
Mongini retired at the end of the school year in 2006.
For more on this story, follow this website, and read the Corning Observer on Wednesday.