Thank you for submitting!
Contact EdCal
Send questions, comments and news tips to us via this form.
February 6, 2023
ACSA is mourning the loss of Rex Fortune, Ed.D., a former school administrator, author, and beloved mentor and friend, who passed away Jan. 29, 2023. Fortune is being remembered as a trailblazer in education and both an advocate and activist for African American students.
ACSA MALST Advocate Joe Jones said he was honored to call Fortune a friend.
“I remember his humble spirit and how he was always the most innovative and creative person in the room,” Jones said. “Rex had the good fortune and ability to decipher everything that was said and to say something about all of it that was so profound that you had to blink twice. He had this uncanny ability to innovate.”
Fortune was a high school teacher and administrator who went on to spend 20 years as a school district Superintendent in Inglewood USD and Center Joint USD. In the 1970s, he also served as an Associate Superintendent at the California Department of Education under California Superintendent of Public Instruction Wilson Riles.
Fortune, who earned a doctorate in education from Stanford University, became a member of ACSA in 1984.
Jones recalls first meeting Fortune at an ACSA conference early in his school administrator career. Jones said Fortune was a mentor to him and many other school leaders.
“As a mentor, he would always steer me and countless others to bigger and broader things,” Jones said. “He’d say, ‘You don’t want to be the person who is complaining about something — get on the inside of the building. Run the building. Be in charge of something that you want to see changed.’”
In 1993 he co-founded the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) with Charlie Mae Knight, Ed.D., to address the needs of African-American administrators and improve the performance of African-American students in California.
Seeing the need for more diverse teaching candidates in schools, in 1989 he founded Fortune School of Education (then called Project Pipeline). The graduate school “prepares educators and leaders in public schools with competence and sensitivity that will enable them to develop students to their fullest potential,” according to its website.
In 2008, his daughter Margaret Fortune joined Fortune School of Education as its president and CEO. Under her leadership, Fortune School of Education expanded to include a system of tuition-free, college preparatory and public charter schools in San Bernardino and Sacramento. The schools focus on closing the African-American achievement gap.
Fortune also authored or co-authored four books, including “Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do” and “Leadership on Purpose: Promising Practices for African American and Hispanic Students.”
Last year, he attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Roseville for a new school in Center Joint USD to be named in his honor. Rex Fortune Elementary School is expected to open in the fall of 2023, according to published reports.
“The span of his influence is far and wide — way beyond a normal person,” Jones said.
Fortune is survived by his wife, Margaret Fortune, and three children: Gwendolyn, Rex III and Margaret G. Fortune will be laid to rest in a private ceremony. A public celebration of his life will be scheduled in the spring.
Submit news about educator promotions, retirements and obituaries to EdCal.
Find your next position in school leadership.
Search jobs
Contact Us
© 2023 Association of California School Administrators