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Dawson Springs board member killed in storm; loved serving her district

Jenny Bruce

Kentucky School Advocate
January 2022

By Brenna R. Kelly
Staff writer

When Jenny Bruce retired from Dawson Springs Independent after working nearly 40 years at the small district, she wasn’t done.

Bruce, who spent most of her career as the district’s finance director, decided to run for school board to continue serving.

“I graduated from this district and then went on to work in the district,” Bruce told the Messenger in December 2020 after she was elected. “I have lived here all of my life and plan on staying here, and I feel that our school district is a very important part of Dawson Springs.”

Bruce, 67, was one of 14 people killed in Hopkins County when tornadoes tore through the county the night of Dec. 10.

Superintendent Lenny Whalen said Bruce’s home was leveled by the twister.

“I am heartbroken that we lost Jenny,” Whalen told the Dawson Springs Progress. “She is going to be sadly missed by a lot of people.”

Whalen said Bruce got along with everyone whom she met.

“Jenny was a super employee and board member, and an even better person,” Whalen said on Twitter. “Jenny was loved by all. My heart is beyond heavy.”

In addition to her kindness, Bruce had a deep love for the district and extensive knowledge of district operations.

“You won’t find a bigger supporter of our schools than Jenny Bruce,” he said in the (Madisonville) Messenger. “(She had) a vast array of knowledge of how our school functions and was a major supporter.”

Though Bruce ended her career as the district’s finance director, she had held numerous roles in the district.

Dawson Springs Elementary Principal Jennifer Ward (left) delivers a report at the Dawson Springs Ind. board meeting Nov. 15 as Jenny Bruce listens. (Provided by the Dawson Springs Progress)

 “Jenny started out driving a bus and she was a teacher’s aide, and she gradually worked her way up to finance director,” Whalen told the Associated Press. “She was some kind of lady.”Katrina Kinman, KSBA’s Director of Policy and eMeetings, recalled training Bruce when the district started using the eMeeting service.


“She was the ultimate professional – a very quick learner and a pleasure to work with,” Kinman said.

When Bruce ran for an open seat in 2020, she was unopposed. She looked forward to continuing to give back to Dawson Springs.

“My main goal for our school district is to make sure it remains here for many years to come,” Bruce told the Messenger after her election. “I hope to see our student population grow; I feel that we have a great school district and have a lot to offer.”

Bruce’s husband, James, died in March 2020. She is survived by her daughter, Brandy Wiser, and son, Greg Simons. Services were held Dec. 21 in Dawson Springs.

Citizens National Bank of Lebanon, Bruce’s daughter’s employer, has started a fund in Bruce’s honor to help the Dawson Springs Community. Donations, including checks and gift cards, can be mailed to Citizens National Bank of Lebanon, at 149 W. Main St., Lebanon, KY 40033.

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