Many in Bentonville are in mourning and surprised by the sudden death of a longtime Bentonville junior high principal.
Fulbright Junior High School Principal Kathy Murry was only 59 years old when she died on Saturday. School officials told 5NEWS Murry died unexpectedly of unknown causes.
“It’s a great loss for the community, because she touched so many lives,” said Physical Education Department Head Mike Nelson. “I don’t think we will ever replace her. I don’t think you can replace her, but we will try. We know that’s what she would want.”
Murry was employed with the district for 27 years and was principal at Fulbright Junior High on the day it opened in August 2013. School administrators said she was instrumental in everything at the school’s opening, from naming the school to picking a mascot—the Timber Wolves.
“It wasn’t just seeing walls erected,” said Assistant Principal Bradley Webber. “It wasn’t just seeing the staff get assembled, but it was really about the building of a family. The building of a pack mentality.”
Webber worked with Murry for six years. He described her as a compassionate and hardworking woman who always put others first. Webber said Murry’s contribution to education was huge.
“She was a hands on principal who wanted to see her teachers develop,” he said. “She wanted to see her students develop.”
Nelson worked with Murry since 2001 and said he will miss her laugh and open-door policy.
“It didn’t matter what it was for,” he said. “If it was for education or if it was for personal, you could always just go in and talk to her. It didn’t matter what she was doing. She had time.”
Webber said the legacy Murry left will never be forgotten.
“Her fingerprints are not just on this school, but they are across this community,” he said. “She loved not only Fulbright Junior High. She loved the city, and she loved the school district.”
District officials said there will be extra counselors on hand when students return to Fulbright Junior High and at other schools where she worked, like Washington Junior High and Bentonville High School.
A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville.