School officials react to Young’s passing

The following is an update to the story on the Monday morning death of Fort Madison School board member Gayla Young.


FORT MADISON – Fort Madison School District Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater has confirmed this morning that current school board member Gayla Young died this morning at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The cause of Young’s death has not been released by the family, but Slater issued a statement on behalf of the district at around 4 p.m. Monday night. District staff was notified via email this morning.


“The Fort Madison Community School District is deeply saddened by the loss of school board Vice-President Gayla Young, who passed away earlier today. Gayla was a strong advocate and supporter of the students and staff of the Fort Madison Community School District. Her passion for education, her countless volunteering efforts, and her love of learning will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time,” Slater wrote in an email Monday.

Fort Madison School Board President Dr. Tim Wondra said Young’s impact will be missed throughout southeast Iowa.

“It’s a great loss for Fort Madison and everything she was a part of on the board, but it’s also a loss for Danville where she taught, and it’s a tremendous loss for Denmark with all that she was involved in in that community,” Wondra said.

“Gayla was a great person, quick to help, would also be there for anyone, anytime and she was so smart. I am truly a better person for having known and served with her.”

Young, a teacher in the Danville school system, was re-elected to the Fort Madison board in September 2017 after serving her first four-year term winning her seat in 2013. She was the current vice-president of the school board.

Other school board members also shared in the grief of Young’s passing.

Lois DiPrima worked at Denmark Elementary School during the 1980s with Young, when Young was a cook with the district and decided she wanted to do more.

“She wanted to be more of a part of her children’s education and other people’s education. The day she went back to school, she was so excited. She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and teaching was the way to do it. I remember her saying those exact words to me,” DiPrima said.

“In the last four years on the board I have seen a family grow. This is losing a part of that family.”

Board member Dianne Hope said didn’t know Young before serving on the board with her, but said she didn’t just lose a fellow board member, but a friend.

“Gayle was a dedicated board member and brought a classroom educator’s view to the table. She also followed legislative issues and what was going on in Des Moines. She will be missed as a board member and as a friend.”

Jared Hotop said Young was a big advocate for education and the students of Fort Madison.

“She always had the district’s best interests at heart,” he said.

Fellow board member Carol Ross said Young gave education everything she had.

“Gayla was a great person. She was passionate about education and gave 110% in everything she did,” Ross said. “I enjoyed getting to know her and she will be missed. My condolences to her family.”

Young was also a member of the Denmark Volunteer Fire Department.

Services are pending at Schmitz Funeral Home in West Point.

Pen City Current will publish additional service information as it becomes available.

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