Widely-loved Chicago Public Schools Principal Robert “Rob” Croston has died, as the Chicago Sun Times reported. The Times noted Croston’s legacy of “resourcefulness, energy and leadership inspired his students” and his dedication to exposing economically and ethnically vulnerable Black students to rigorous lessons and learning opportunities with students of different races through a merger that was approved by the local school board shortly before he passed.

Croston’s reputation includes modeling academic excellence, especially for young Black men, his civic involvement and accessibility to students who were increasingly rendered outsiders in their gentrifying community.

The 34-year-old experienced Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that compromises connective tissue. Having undergone several heart surgeries in connection with the disease, Croston had fallen into a coma and died on Monday in hospice care.

“He was very radical in ways to us,”  Mathias Schergen, a teacher who worked with Croston, told the Chicago Tribune. The Harvard University, Dominican University and University of Chicago alum is survived by his wife Sheena.

“We didn’t have the time to not like his fancy degrees. It was kind of like your best friends and your aunties and your big sisters — we wanted him to be successful. All he had to do was be Rob and share the vision and create space and capacity for people to be excellent,” Tara Stamps, a teacher from a prominent Chicago family, said.

“… Come hell or high water, he was going to do right by the kids,” Chicago sociologist and writer Eve Ewing told the Tribune.