The Catholic community has lost a "passionate and enthusiastic educator" with the sudden death of Aquinas College founding principal Brendan Schollum.

Mr Schollum died on Friday aged 67 at Auckland Hospital after he was admitted for an infection, viral encephalitis, that caused swelling in his brain.

His passing comes only 16 months after his wife Jane died of brain cancer. Mrs Schollum also worked at Aquinas College as a librarian.

Mr Schollum was the founding principal of Aquinas College when it opened in 2003 until his retirement in 2010, when he returned to his home city Auckland.

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Moira Ramsbottom, principal's assistant at Aquinas, said the first thing that came to mind about Mr Schollum was his energy.

"He was an amazing people's person, he loved people, he loved hearing about people at all levels and he got the best out of people.

"You got his energy and his enthusiasm and wanted to be a part of his team."

Mrs Ramsbottom said Mr Schollum was a "great manager of people" who gave a sense of belonging and a feeling of inspiration.

Mrs Ramsbottom said the school had received an overwhelming response from the community after Mr Schollum's death, including emails from former students.

Acting principal Terry Consedine worked with Mr Schollum from 2006 until his retirement. He said Mr Schollum had still kept in touch with his former students.

"He made a strong connection with the students. He used to take the student executive to his home at the end of year for a meal, they loved that."

Mr Schollum was involved with the creation of most of the school's "touchstones", the values at the heart of everything that goes on in the school. "What stands out about him is he was a passionate and enthusiastic educator. He went into everything with huge gusto and energy."

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Mr Schollum is survived by his three children and three granddaughters.

Aquinas College will hold a public memorial mass on Thursday at 1.30pm at the school gymnasium.

Viral encephalitis

• Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain.

• The symptoms: fever, headache, muscle aches or weakness, feeling tired and nausea, vomiting, odd behaviour, confusion and drowsiness, stiff neck and back, an intolerance of light; paralysis can occur. Eventually patients can become unconscious and may start to have seizures.

- patient.co.uk