Ron Palillo, Arnold Horshack on 'Welcome Back, Kotter remembered as dedicated teacher

School colleagues shocked by death

At G-Star School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, room K-110 has yet to be organized.

"You expect to see that smiling face to come through the door and you know he's never coming through the door," said school founder, Greg Hauptner.

Hauptner is referring to the news of Ron Palillo's unexpected death.  Palillo, best for known for his role as "Horshack" on the 1970s hit series, "Welcome Back Kotter," was an acting teacher at G-Star.

"He loved just being called Mr. Palillo," said Hauptner.

Palillo started teaching at the school in 2009.  He taught 9th graders how to act for the camera.  

it was a role and a setting he knew well.

Three decades earlier, Palillo made being the high school class clown famous.  Hauptner describes Palillo as a teacher.

"He made everything fun, but he could be tough. He pushed kids to get down to their emotions"

Colleagues from the school say Palillo had become more than a teacher at the school.  He wrote and directed a screen play, even played roles in school productions.

"This is a huge loss for the school, a huge loss.  Whenever you have someone that brings so much passion, it's a huge loss.  This is going to take some healing," he Palillo.

Ron Palillo's death comes on what would have been his first day back to the classroom for the new school year.

Instead, Palillo's class will remain empty for now, while those he leaves behind remember the artist, the teacher and the friend.

"It's been a very tough day.  Complete shock and surprise.  We did not expect this at all," said Hauptner.

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