Educators who died of COVID-19 in the St. Louis Metro.
Memorialized here are people who worked in education and died of COVID-19. Retirees who were still active within this field are also included. This page is dedicated to all the teachers, janitors, bus drivers, part time teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, and all other education staff who have died of COVID-19 in greater St. Louis.
Please fill out the contact form and reach out if you would like to submit the story of a deceased person, help me out with this project, or just “say hi”.
Stay safe —
Carol A. Strawbridge, retired school principal
Carol Strawbridge was admitted to the hospital on May 3, and died of COVID-19 on May 21 with her family watching 15 minutes away on Facetime as a nurse held her hand. The much loved matriarch of her extensive family, Carol Strawbridge left an indelible mark on her community she helped, the kids she taught, and everyone who was fortunate to know her in any way.
Dr. Ruth Louise Beckmann Murray, EdD, MSN, RN, CS, N-NAP, DAPA
Dr. Ruth Louise Beckmann Murray passed from complications of COVID-19 and pneumonia on June 25, 2020. Her 40 year career in the nursing department at St. Louis University included roles as a Program Coordinator, Psychiatric-Mental Health Professor for Undergraduate & Graduate Nursing Education, and textbook author. Dr. Ruth Beckmann Murray inspired and guided thousands of nursing students in their professional paths as Nurses, helped thousands more in her various other helping roles, and reached countless through her publications and community advocacy. She mentored and profoundly touched many lives personally, as the memories posted on her obituary describe. Her vibrancy, kindness, and love are missed far beyond her immediate and extended family.
Dr. Deborah Kantor Nagler, educational technologist
Deborah Nagler grew up in St. Louis and Kansas City and attended Washington University for her undergraduate studies. She died of COVID-19 on April 3 at the age of 66 in Teaneck New Jersey. Deborah was a great mind and accomplished in STEM education and active lifelong in Jewish education.As the St. Louis Jewish Light concluded: "Deborah’s leadership and great love for her family will continue to reach people who may never even know her name, but will live, love, and succeed because of her."
Mary Smith, a special education teacher, died from complications of COVID-19 on December 8, 2020 at the age of 49. She taught for 21 years with the Special School District of St. Louis County, most recently teaching first graders at Fairview Elementary in Jennings. According to KSDK's reporting, "Smith lived with her mother and was her primary caregiver. The week of Thanksgiving, Smith's mother contracted COVID-19 and died a short time later...". The seven students that Mary taught were individually notified, and staff at Fairview held a "therapy session" after the news broke. Counselors are available for students and staff to help them deal with this loss. Mary Smith was much loved by all those who knew her, and special education was her true calling in life. She is deeply missed by all her former students, children of all ages who she helped out in life, her coworkers, and her family.
Frank Massey, passed of COVID-19 on April 17, 2020 five days after his 68th birthday. He had been married 20 years and had seven children. Frank's grieving wife gave an emotional interview with News Channel 5 on Your Side on April 18th: "I want people to know that coronavirus is not a joke. It is not a hoax and it is definitely not fake news because I'm living the nightmare," Cynthia said.
Juanita Eason Graham, former Webster Groves preschool teacher
Juanita Eason Graham died of COVID-19 on March 28. She was 55 years old. Juniata Graham is missed deeply by her husband of 18 years, her mother, her family, everyone that she worked with, and the former preschoolers who she introduced to school for the first time. Juniata's husband wishes people to take social distancing and all the precautions seriously, because COVID-19 is not a joke.
Dr. Gaye Griffin-Snyder died of COVID-19 on June 6, 2020. She was a professional counselor in St. Louis County and worked as an adjunct graduate professor at Missouri State. She helped out countless people through their struggles with mental health and emotional issues. Her daughter Angela wrote "She died with strangers and couldn’t respond to me in any way when I got to say goodbye via video conference. It haunts me constantly."
Mitch Coleman succumbed to COVID-19 on June 29, 2020 after valiantly fighting it for over a month. He was 58 years old. He was a warmhearted man and brightened any room just by being in it.
His widowed wife submitted this memorial and wrote: "Mitch Coleman was a follower of Jesus, an amazing husband and father of two, a maintenance worker at The School District of Clayton, and all around great guy. He knew no stranger and loved to make people laugh. He had a fabulous smile and was loved by many. He lived in Arnold, MO with his wife, Kim. In May of 2020 he contracted COVID-19 and spent 30 days in ICU on a ventilator and ECMO machine. On June 29, 2020 he lost his fight to this horrible disease that caused so many health complications. He was only 58 years old and he will always be missed by his family and friends."