Bethesda Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Gayle Nicol died suddenly Monday, leaving students, staff and families of the school shocked at the unexpectedness of the tragedy.
“It took everybody by surprise. It’s a tragic loss,” said Bethesda parent Brenda Lytle. “I know she’ll be missed by many people.”
Nicol died following a medical procedure. She had been a teacher at Bethesda since 1990, according to the school. In addition to teaching, she loved tennis and flying kites.
Lytle noted that it will be a hard loss for Nicol's students, some of whom have had her as a teacher for two years in a row, but she praised the school’s handling of the tragedy.
“The school has been very supportive, letting people know. They also have counselors available,” said Lytle, whose daughter had Nicol as a classroom teacher last year and as a science teacher this year. Lytle’s older son also had Nicol as a teacher.
Lytle got to know Nicol over the years, as a parent helper and scout leader. On occasion, she would run into Nicol at the Milwaukee lakefront where she was flying kites.
“She was just an amazing teacher,” said Bethesda teacher Cheri Ehrlich, Nicol’s coworker for 13 years. A fond memory Ehrlich has of Nicol is that every year she was always the best witch at Halloween – her costume complete with hat, stockings and black lipstick.
“She’s very special lady. She’s going to be missed immensely,” Ehrlich said. “She’s touched every building in this district.”
No information is available yet about a memorial service.