MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison Memorial High School community is mourning the loss of its leader.
Madison Metropolitan School District says principal Bruce Dahmen died Tuesday night. Memorial Athletic director Jeremy Schlitz tells 27 News Dahmen was visiting former basketball player Jeronne Maymon, who now plays for the University of Tennessee.
UT police say just before 7 p.m. they responded to a call of a sick person at the Thompson-Boling Arena. He was taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead.
Dahmen had worked for the school district for 40 years. He started as a teacher in 1974, worked as a coach and finally principal. Those who spent time with Dahmen say in those 40 years, he has left a lasting impact on Memorial High School.
"People often say that Memorial and Bruce Dahmen are synonymous; he represents Memorial High School," says Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. "The impact that he's had on adults and children in our system is impossible to calculate."
Cheatham tells 27 News besides students, Dahmen also mentored other principals and teachers throughout the school.
Students say coming to school on Wednesday was hard.
"You could tell JMM wasn't the same. I walked into school and I started bawling, honestly he meant a lot to everyone," says senior Jenny Percy. "[Dahmen] was there for everyone and it's amazing to know that somebody like that was at our school and we were lucky enough to meet him and have experiences with him."
Both teachers and students are in mourning because of how close Dahmen was to just about everyone in the building.
"He cares so much for the community at Memorial and its amazing to see the profound effect that he's had on so many of the students here," says senior Jeremy Gartland. "This is somebody who genuinely cared about you, sometimes more than you did yourself."
Carole Klopp has known Dahmen for decades. She was on the PTO when he was a teacher and she now is a volunteer at Memorial. Klopp leads a student volunteer group that worked closely with Dahmen.
Klopp tells 27 News Dahmen was the most approachable administrator she's seen listening to what the students had to say and thinking outside the box.
"He spent many long hours at the school, giving it his all and trying to make it the best place he could for kids and education," says Klopp.
Many know Dahmen leaves a big vacancy in the Memorial community but has set a good base for the future.
The school will continue offering support and counseling for staff and students as needed.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Memorial High School's principal has died.
According to Memorial Athletic Director Jeremy Schlitz, Principal Bruce Dahmen died Tuesday while in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife to watch former Memorial basketball player, Jeronne Maymon, who plays for the University of Tennessee. Schlitz says he was told Dahmen fell ill before last night's Tennessee-Florida game and was taken to the hospital. School officials have not been able to tell us how Dahmen died.
Memorial is making counseling services available to students and staff.
Dahmen was hired in 2005, but worked at Memorial for more than two decades, teaching marketing and business education. Memorial's mascot, Bruce, was named after him in 2006 because he was so popular with students and staff.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham issued the following statement on Dahmen's passing:
"Bruce was an incredible leader, an expert principal and a friend to so many of us. He led Memorial High School with skill and integrity, and he touched the lives of countless students, staff and families. This is a tremendous loss for our community. Our focus today and in the coming days is on supporting Memorial staff, students and families. We will continue to have extra staff on hand to provide support for those who need it. We ask that the community join us in keeping Bruce's family, Memorial High School and our entire MMSD community in your thoughts."
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