Dunbar teacher Kathy Krempely dies
Students and staff at Dunbar Elementary School are mourning the loss of one of their own. Long-time, second-grade teacher Kathy Krempely died Tuesday morning in Santa Rosa on her way to school.
Krempely was involved in an auto accident on Highway 12 and Calistoga Road.
According to the Santa Rosa Police Department, at about 7:30 a.m., with her car loaded with Valentine’s Day presents, Krempely’s car struck the back end of another vehicle at what was described as “a very slow speed.”
When rescue personnel arrived, the found Krempely unresponsive and transported her to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Investigating officers are trying to determine if she had some type of medical emergency just prior to or at the time of the collision.
“This is such a tragedy,” said school Superintendent Louann Carlomagno. “Kathy was one of the most thoughtful people I’ve met in my life.”
Counselors, representatives from the WillMar Family Grief and Healing Center and three therapy dogs were at Dunbar on Wednesday to help the students, staff and the families of the students.
“She really touched the lives of every person she met,” Carlomagno said.
Krempely was a longtime teacher in the district, starting at Sassarini Elementary School in 1975, later moving to Prestwood and then to Dunbar where she had taught since 1990.
“Kathy was on her way to school and had Valentine’s packages for her students,” Carlomagno said.
The district didn’t tell the students on Tuesday, but administrators, counselors and Barbara Cullen, WillMar’s executive director, met. They sent home a sealed letter with each student and used the automated call-system to tell parents to read the sealed letter their child was bringing home. Carlomagno said the Dunbar staff personally called the parents of Krempely’s students.
Melanie Blake, Dunbar’s principal, said it was a shock to the Dunbar community.
“We had grief counselors and support people in every room,” Blake said. “And we also had three therapy dogs.”
The students made cards and wrote letters to Krempely’s family, and some started on longer stories that will be put in a scrapbook and given to the family at the end of the school year.
“Everyone has a story about how she touched their lives,” Blake said. “And we all thought we were unique. As an example, she bought one student a pair of glasses when she discovered the girl’s parents could not afford them.”
“The students were asking lots of great questions,” Blake said. “They talked about dedicating the yearbook in her honor.”
As of Wednesday, Blake hadn’t heard when services will be scheduled, but thought it might be sometime next week at St. Eugene’s in Santa Rosa.
“The students and staff have talked about holding a memorial service,” Blake added.
The Dunbar students put a message up on the Dunbar sign Wednesday, that read, “Dunbar loves you Mrs. Krempely.”
Krempely, 64, leaves behind a husband, Dennis, and two sons.
“Kathy exemplified everything that was best about Dunbar,” Blake said. “She will be sorely missed.”