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Former John Burroughs High Principal Tim Buchanan, 70, dies of cancer

Tim Buchanan, a former John Burroughs High School principal and longtime educator, died Aug. 25 from acute myeloid leukemia. He was 70.

Buchanan called 911 and described feeling like his body was “shutting down,” said Ryan Buchanan, one of his sons. Tim Buchanan was taken to the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center Aug. 4.

Two days later, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and underwent intensive chemotherapy for a week before he died. During a phone interview, Megan Buchanan said her father had a clean bill of health prior to being diagnosed.

Tim Buchanan began his career in education as a history teacher at age 22 at Corona del Mar High School in 1969. He coached freshmen and sophomore football and varsity track. While teaching, he earned a master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton.

After four years at Corona del Mar, he served as vice principal at a few schools before taking on his first role as principal in 1979 at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead.

Then, in 1985, he took the helm as principal at John Burroughs High School until 2000. He later became director of the Burbank Adult School until his retirement in 2004.

While balancing work as a single father of three children, Tim Buchanan always carved out time to be with them and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, said Megan Buchanan, who is now a high school teacher in Vermont.

Described as a personable and model educator, Ryan Buchanan said his father strove to always find ways to help students succeed and connect with faculty and parents.

While at Burroughs High, Tim Buchanan founded Program for Success, where assistant principals visited classrooms and worked with at-risk students, helping them get back on track to graduate.

His son said the former John Burroughs principal was also an avid supporter of the school’s choir and band programs.

“He was very involved and that was very special to me,” said Judy Barton, Tim Buchanan’s longtime secretary at Burroughs High.

Since his death, Barton said she has recounted memories of Tim Buchanan with former colleagues.

She recalled Tim Buchanan shaved his head after he learned her son shaved his head because he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Besides his children, Tim Buchanan is survived by his three grandchildren.

Ryan Buchanan said he is planning a memorial for his father at John Burroughs in the near future.

Twitter: @vegapriscella

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the number of Tim Buchanan's survived relatives. Besides his children, he is survived by three grandchildren.
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