Polk County Schools is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Polk County Board of Education Chairman Geoffrey M. Tennant.

A lifelong educator, champion of students and benefactor of Polk County, Tennant passed away Friday at the age of 79. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.

Tennant joined the Tryon High School faculty in 1966, beginning more than five decades of dedication to Polk County Schools. He served as a teacher and coach at Tryon High, then became a member of the Board of Education in 1992 before becoming its chairman in 1996.

Tennant’s dedication to the community touched nearly all of its residents. He served as fire chief for both the towns of Columbus and Tryon, and helped numerous Polk County students attend college through the Ann L. Turner and Geoffrey M. Tennant Foundation, named in honor of his mother.

“Mr. Tennant’s passing is an incredibly significant loss to our Polk County Schools family and our entire community,” said Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene. “I know I speak for us all in saying we are shocked and heartbroken.

“A truly great man, the true depths of Mr. Tennant’s dedication to our students, schools and impact on our entire community will never be able to be fully measured or adequately expressed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tennant family.”

Polk County Schools and the Tennant family ask for your assistance in respecting the privacy of the family in this difficult time.