Phillip Perry—a Waco, Texas, middle school principal—died on Tuesday after contracting the novel coronavirus, becoming the first person in McLennan County to succumb to the disease.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Perry had been the principal of G.W. Carver Middle School since May 2019. Waco Independent School District announced that the principal had been hospitalized on Monday after testing positive.
“Mr. Perry has been a role model to countless students in our district and in his neighborhood. He cared deeply for his students and colleagues at G.W. Carver Middle School, providing guidance and support at any time,” the school district said in a statement on its Facebook page. “In addition to serving as principal at Carver, Mr. Perry often umpired local baseball games and refereed basketball games, offering words of encouragement to young athletes.”
Prior to serving as principal at G.W. Carver, Perry served in the Marine Corps, then went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He eventually went on to become an educator, according to KENS5.
His sister, Jada Perry-Alexander, posted a message on her Facebook page, describing her brother as the “class clown, the prankster and the cook.”
“I CANNOT do sad, and we are not going to do sad. We have to do this like Phillip would want it. No ‘I am sorry.’ No ‘My condolences.’ Please post your favorite moment with him,” she pleaded. “Tell me your stories on how my brother Phillip touched and forever changed your life. I can’t wait to show this post to my parents, so they will know that the whole world knows they raised an incredible man.”
The community responded to her call, with a few even sharing photos and videos of moments with the beloved principal.
There are at least 44 cases in McLennan County alone. As of Wednesday morning, there were 3,925 confirmed cases of the virus in Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with a total of 58 deaths.
Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said in a statement that Perry, whom he did not name, had underlying health conditions.
“This is a tragic development but not an unforeseen one,” Deaver said. “I call on all of our community to keep the victim’s family in their prayers and respect their privacy.”
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