SHELBURN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The family of a local teacher recently said their goodbyes.
But in a way that kept her passion alive.
Michelle Kemp passed away November first after her battle with cancer.
Michelle was a first grade teacher at Farrington Grove in Terre Haute.
Instead of flowers at the funeral, her family asked for something that would last a little longer.
“Tissues. You ask teachers what they need and it’s a lot of tissues,” Nathan Kemp, Michelle Kemp’s husband said.
Nathan knows the drill. Over the past 13 years, he helped his wife Michelle, an elementary school teacher gather school supplies and winter essentials for her students.
“Things you don’t think of like, fresh, clean underwear. All the way down to regular, number two pencils.”
Except this collection is different. Michelle recently passed away after a four year battle with Ovarian cancer.
In lieu of funeral flowers around Michelle’s casket, her mother-in-law, Cheryl Kemp, wanted backpacks.
Through donations they would be filled with school supplies, coats, socks, hats, anything students might need.
“I saw it on Facebook about a year ago. When she passed, and I’m not a big flower person, they just wither away and die and I thought this would be a much better tribute to her,” Cheryl said.
Over 300 backpacks filled the First Baptist Church in Shelburn where Michelle, a Farmersburg native, was an active member.
It was a unique idea, even to the funeral director.
“He’d never seen anything like this before and he’d been doing funerals for 40 plus years,” Nathan said.
The out pour of donations makes it apparent that Michelle touched many people through her passion.
“She liked to go in early and she liked to stay late … And then when she got home it was nothing grading papers and doing lesson plans.”
Nathan says their three children together always came first, but her students came closely after. She loved her job and loved making a connection through education.
I was a lucky man.”
Nathan says he was just lucky that she liked him. The two met when they worked at a local restaurant over a decade ago.
Back then, her maiden name was Bosc.
When everybody say her, they were saying, ‘hey Bosc, what’s up Bosc’ I thought they were saying boss, b-o-s-s. So I said, ‘who is this beautiful woman they’re all calling boss? I got to get to know who that is.”
Being a woman who made an impact from the start, Nathan says seeing how much others cared about Michelle has helped with his loss.
“The communities come together to support her and me and my whole family and it’s just been very touching, very humbling.”
Farrington Grove’s principal Bill Smith says …. “Michelle was an outstanding first grade teacher” … “Her mere presence made the world a better place” … “She was a great role model for all of us” … “She was one of the best.”