School district’s new superintendent follows a line that dates to 1899

The person named Tuesday as the next superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District will be the 17th to hold the title. 

The district got its first superintendent in 1899. 

The Salem-Keizer School Board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, to hire the successor to Christy Perry, who is retiring. The session will be available on Youtube in English and in Spanish and will be broadcast on Capital Community Media channel 21. 

The first superintendent was Daniel W. Yoder, a native of Pennsylvania who was a lifelong educator. 

Yoder was the Marion County school superintendent when he took the district job, according to historical records. 

He served in the post for three years. At some point, he moved to eastern Oregon and served as the high school principal in Burns. He died there in 1912 and was buried in Salem Pioneer Cemetery, then known as the Odd Fellows Rural Cemetery. 

An account of his funeral in the Oregon Statesman reported “there were many beautiful floral pieces, among them being two magnificent ones from the Harney high school, a pillow and anchor. The Elks had a nice floral piece representing the colors of the lodge while the Masons placed upon the coffin splendid flowers in the shape of the square and compass.” 

Yoder served as the local superintendent until 1902. The leaders since then: 

1902-1905 – T.R. Traver 

1905-1912 – J.M. Powers 

1912-1914 – P.J. Kuntz 

1914-1916 – Oliver M. Elliott 

1916-1920 – John W. Todd 

1920-1934 – George W. Hugg 

1934-1939 – Silas Gaiser 

1939-1954 – Frank B. Bennett 

1954-1956 – Walter E. Snyder 

1956-1972 – Charles D. Schmidt 

1972-1986 – William M. Kendrick 

1986-2000 – Homer Kearns 

2000-2006 – Kay Baker 

2006-2013 – Sandra Husk 

2014-2023 – Christy Perry 

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Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.