Blogs give us permission to be more personal and opinionated. And this one is just that.
Last week we learned of the sudden death of a long-term NSPRA member, leader, and friend, Joe Krumm, APR. I am still a bit numb from this harsh reality, but I would like those of you who never had the opportunity to work with Joe, to have some insight to learn from this role model for our profession. Joe was a special human being who epitomized the soul of what a top pro can do for your entire school community.
Joe worked in the North Clackamas School District (Milwaukie, Oregon) since 1990. He started out as a one-person shop and grew it into a comprehensive program focused on all levels of engagement and social justice in his greater Milwaukie community. In August, my wife Carolyn and I hosted Joe and his wife Colleen for two nights during his east coast major league baseball park tour. They both appreciated MLB and their beloved San Francisco Giants.
We are so glad for that visit because we had the leisure time to engage in wonderful discussions about national politics, School PR, and future endeavors. We laughed over those two days as Joe and I realized that we both had led our first NSPRA sessions on the “one-person shop” early in our careers.
Joe Served on NSPRA’s Board Twice
Fortunately for us, Joe served two tenures on the NSPRA Board: First, as a Northwest Regional VP (2000-2003), and then as NSPRA President in 2012-2013. We worked closely together during his presidency and that’s when I learned first-hand about his love for his family and his parental priorities and his deep feeling of the need to do more for all Clackamas children.
Joe was a force who never stopped thinking and working on behalf of his family and community.
Comments and testimonials continue to flow into NSPRA on Joe’s passing. Here are just a few examples:
- Joe’s reach was far and wide locally, regionally, and nationally. You didn’t need to be with Joe for more than a minute to know his deep love for his family, his music and his community. Joe was the foundation for building strong collaborative relationships between the District and students, their families and the community. His leadership for social justice and equity for all students was always as the heart of his work — to help each student succeed. Matt Utterback, North Clackamas Superintendent
- Joe was one of the best PR pros I have ever had the opportunity to sit with and discuss our profession and its impact on children. Joe’s musical talent for performing helped him to not take himself so seriously — it is what preserves sanity for those of us who have done this for a few years. Joe also understood his role in impacting the future for children and he played that gig to the fullest as well! Tim Hensley, APR, Past NSPRA President
- Joe was always so gracious, kind, unassuming as a leader and friend. What a tremendous loss to the NSPRA family, his own family and his school district. Susan Hardy Brooks, APR, NSPRA Past President
- He was no common Joe, but a tremendous man of uncommon accomplishment and capacity. Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA Executive Director
- He was determined to make public relations a valid, no-spin approach to getting information to people who were interested in the schools. He really held the community together in ways that are going to be difficult to replicate. I can’t believe that he’s not going to be around to joke with and hear play his drums. Lew Frederick, Oregon State Representative
- He was an amazing person, and when you met him, you knew you had just met one of the kindest and most generous men you will ever know. Laura Edmonds, President North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce
- Shoes and a little boy ball cap; contemplative, kind, enigmatic, dedicated — deeply dedicated; played drums like he was pounding our troubles into dust. Jim Dunn, APR, Past NSPRA President
Red Shoes, Good Music, and Accountability Connections
During his first tenure on the NSPRA Board, Joe used to bring his computer and portable speakers to play music. I remember more Board members looking forward more to the musical break than to covering the items on our agenda.
Joe loved his family so much in so many ways. But I especially remember his glee when he was telling us about the stand-up comic jokes of his son, Martin. And they were really funny jokes!
Joe was known for his penchant for red sneakers and music. He actually gave elementary instruments to the NSPRA Board members as his thank-you gift when his term had ended. In recognition, discussions are already underway about how NSPRA members may have a red-shoe tribute throughout our San Antonio Seminar next July.
Some say there is little connection between student achievement and a comprehensive communication program. Joe tirelessly demonstrated tangible connections and helped NSPRA with its benchmarking project to prove that theory wrong. During that project, we both collaborated about the accountability issue and reminded anyone who would listen that our raison d’être was the improvement of teaching and learning in our schools.
My personal last memory of Joe was during our August visit to attend a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and his beloved SF Giants in D.C. Before the game, we had a chance to stop off at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; the photo above shows Joe walking into the memorial with his Willie McCovey shirt and red shoes. If you look a bit ahead, you can see Colleen in her scooter beginning to scan the wonderful social justice quotes depicted throughout the memorial. It was a meaningful morning, but the only thing missing was Joe’s drum set. You can bet he’s now playing his social justice “set” for us in the next steps we all take in our profession. Joe taught us well and now it is up to us to continue the beat of this one highly respected and admired man.
Joe’s wife of 32 years, Colleen Murray, has said, “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection for how they saw Joe and I appreciate it very much, because that’s exactly how I saw Joe.”
Colleen, that’s how we all saw and knew Joe as well.
A memorial service for Joe Krumm is scheduled for Sunday, October 23, at 2 p.m.:
Rex Putnam High School, 4950 SE Roethe Road, Milwaukie, OR 97267
Donations in Joe’s memory can be made to North Clackamas Education Foundation:
6031 SE King Road, Milwaukie, OR 97222 or online at North Clackamas Education Foundation.
In addition, NSPRA members may also want to honor Joe with a donation to NSPRA’s foundation. Just go to www.nspra.org and follow directions to contribute to the Foundation for the Advancement of Education in Joe’s name. The funds are used for member scholarships to the NSPRA Seminar.
Rich Bagin, APR
Executive Director NSPRA