Retired Teachers Killed When Truck Hits Restaurant

September 6, 2006 - Posted at 5:58 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, AR -- A half century of education....Jane Wright and Beverly Tapp contributed a combined 50 years of service to the Newport School District. While both were retired, they left an indelible mark on generations of students along with teachers past and present.

"Miss Jane Wright, as a secretary, was everything," said Superintendent Ronny Brown, "She was a nurse, she was a hall monitor and she was a secretary.  She just did everything at that Junior High. Miss Beverly Tapp was such a fine English teacher.  The kids really benefited from being in her class."

Wednesday the Newport School District mourned the loss of Tapp, a 33 year veteran of the district who just retired last year and Wright, a junior high secretary who retired in 2002 after serving for 17 years.

"We're trying to have a normal day because that's what these ladies would want us to do," said Brown, "We're trying to have counseling sessions for kids."

While the loss has been tough on students, it has been especially hard for the staff.  Tapp and Wright were part of a group of seven to eight former and current Newport faculty members who met for dinner on Tuesday evenings. The close knit group also consisted of fellow retired teachers Jane Parnell and Carol Brand along with current teacher Pat Brown. Tuesday evening only five of these friends made it to dinner, teacher Jennifer Keedy wasn't one of them.

"I knew they were at Hardee's because I was supposed to come," said Keedy.

For the ladies of the Newport school district Tuesday night was always ladies night out. And up until a couple hours before these ladies were scheduled to have dinner somewhere else.

"Someone changed and in the meantime, I got the call that we were going to Hardee's and I said I don't think I am going to go," said Keedy.

Despite the loss of two colleagues and more importantly two close friends, the teachers of the Newport School District insist their Tuesday evening dinner tradition will continue.

"Oh yes, I don't know when. We have to get them all out of the hospital. But it will continue, it will go on, it has to," said Keedy, "They would be mad at us if it didn't and they will be there with us."

A fund to benefit the families involved in the Hardee's accident has been set up at Merchants and Planters Bank in Newport.  The funds will be administered to the victim's families by the clergy of local area churches.