Editor’s note: We asked people on Facebook to send us their favorite memories about Shakopee Public Schools Superintendent Gary Anger, who died Sunday after a 10-month battle with cancer. Here is what they had to say:

“I remember him for his infectious positive can do attitude and his fortitude to take positive steps every day for our district.”

- Mayor Bill Mars

“I don’t have a specific moment, but there was something about the way he shook your hand and let you know with really his presence alone that you were important. He was an absolute gift to those around him and to the district.”

- Roz Addler

“He made you feel as though you were the only focus and gave you his entire attention. Everyone was important and everyone mattered to him. He truly meant every word he wrote to staff on his notes. What an incredible impact he made on us as a staff.”


Jenni Runyanl,

special education paraprofessional

“I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I know he had a positive influence on my eldest nephew. He sounds like a great person and someone our kids could look up to. We were fortunate to have him. So sad that someone like him has been taken too soon.”

- Sue Holly

“I want to say my heart was warmed that he took the time to personally hand write a congratulatory note to each senior this year. He was a truly amazing educator who deeply cared for our community. He will indeed be missed. Condolences to his family.”


Melanie Nash

“He was an amazing guy. I got to speak to him quite a few times about Shakopee’s bus situations and he was very understanding and always tried to be helpful as he possibly could.”


Dana Waalen

“He hand wrote us little notes at the high school. One time he was walking the halls and stopped me and asked what my position was. I told him I was a special education para. He thanked me for all I do. It was little but it meant a lot.”

- Angela Harden, paraprofessional

“I appreciated seeing handwritten encouraging messages from Mr. Anger on post-its in my mailbox at school! I wish we could somehow display all of these personal messages he wrote so his family could get a glimpse of just how big his impact has been to those of us working in the trenches every day. I bet there are hundreds, if not thousands. I will also miss the positive energy that he brought into every single classroom he visited.”

- Jenny Kent Vande


“When my son graduated from Tokata this year he took the time to be there the congratulate him and the other students that were graduating at the time, shook their hands and handed them their graduation papers. And also even though he was sick and advised by doctors not to attend the 2018 graduating class, he still made the time to send all of the students a little video message and to sing the song from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’ Still gives me chills. This man was amazing.”

- Wendy Buesgens-


“Gary was such a powerful influence on me. I had a mastectomy in August of 2017. I missed the first week of school (workshop week). I came back the first day of school with kids. He was the first person that came into my room to welcome me back and see if I needed help with anything. We talked about me doing radiation. He said that he would sub for me anytime I needed it. During the year Gary was a guest reader in our classroom and he stopped in once and danced with the kids while we were doing a GoNoodle break. After finding out that Gary had cancer, we chatted a lot more via text/messenger. Whenever I asked how he was doing he flipped the conversation and asked how I was doing. We talked about anxiety and he talked about how much he hoped that his wife and kids were okay and hoped that he was pleasing the school board. He was the most positive leader and gave notes to everyone. He went into classrooms and greeted kids. In our classroom, we compared our bald heads. He was a great leader and a great friend who worked so hard regardless of what he was going through. I got teary today, not seeing him walking through my classroom door. If he was here, he would have greeted us all. He made a huge impact in our district and community the short time he was here. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten.”


Sara Sirek Connell (kindergarten teacher)

“We do a raffle at school for our school dance. I reached out to him and asked if he would like to surprise the kids and come serve lunch with the winners and he gladly accepted! I think the kids were so happy to see him behind the counter serving their lunches to them, and he made it great fun for the kids and staff that got to serve along with him. I almost ran out of the egg rolls he was serving, they were so eager to have what he offered them. They truly loved him!”


Joann Gleason Svac

“Our three elementary kiddos knew who Mr. Anger was and thought he was, in their words, ‘awesome, cool and nice.’ They thought it was cool that Mr. Anger visited their school three times during the school year. They’d never met a superintendent before! Mr. Anger was bright light of positivity that our school community needed. I hope we can all carry on his thoughtful, community-minded, caring spirit.”

- Stephanie Hemphill Wiegert

“Gary made himself present in the schools. I remember when he first came into our building, he came into the classroom and said hi to all the kids and to every single staff member in the room, not only the teachers but support staff too. Which to me meant a lot. My daughter who is seven says she remembers how on the first day of school he came to her school and visited all the classrooms. My child noticed that. And that alone to me speaks volumes of the great human being Gary was.”

- Evelin Consentida Hernandez

“He started with eye contact and a smile, usually a handshake. From the moment he met someone, they were known. Back that up, from the time he knew about someone he made it a point to remember her/him and connect. He came to Shakopee at a tender time. We had been lied to, swindled, intimidated, and not cared for well by someone we trusted. Simply by being himself, he led the healing process and restored trust. My kids all met him. Think about that. Three kids. Three different grades. Two schools. They met him and he was “theirs.” The same held true for teachers, staff, parents, and the community. He was a man of his word. A positive force who led with integrity, intelligence, a sense of calm, a deep joy, and a commitment to love well. His loss is deep but his life changed ours. Forever grateful.”

- Alison Penner Rahn

“Only knew Mr Anger via Twitter. He had the magical talent of making one feel included and accepted, even through a screen.”

- Sara Pasek

“The handwritten uplifting notes were always a wonderful surprise! He took his time to write them out for everybody. I always saved mine and put them on my cork board!”

- Robin Rutherford, West JR. High

“He made the Class of 2018’s graduation ceremony so special! What an amazing man! With all the negatives Shakopee schools have been through recently, he was exactly what this community needed. I was looking forward to his light shining on our schools once again.”


Mary Kane-Alger

“Mr. Anger was a great man. I remember me and my friend sitting out in the hallway doing homework and he came walking past us and made the time to say hello and told a goofy joke. Regardless of how big the school had gotten he made every student feel like they were known and cared for by him. I graduated this year, so I got the handwritten note of congrats from him and I just could not believe that someone would write over 600 personal letters, that itself tells you how great of a man he was! He will be missed greatly by all of Shakopee!”

- Mckenzie Johnson

“I will never forget what he did for our graduation ceremony this past year. Since he was unable to attend our ceremony, he made us a video with him singing ‘Pure Imagination’ at the end of the video, in addition to writing all 600 of us little letters congratulating us on our graduation. His warm smile and kindness always filled the hallways. He will definitely be missed!”

- Ashley Jirik

“He was a big fan of our writers workshop class at the Tokata Learning Center. Whenever we posted a new blog he would take time out of his day and read every single one of the poems we’d write and leave a comment to tell us how much he liked it or how it showed him a different perspective on something. One time we invited him to our class where we read our poems out loud and our peers and Mr. Anger would share their thoughts and feelings. He even wrote his own poem one time and it was published with all of ours. He also wrote me a little letter congratulating me on graduating. He was so kind and funny and happy all the time. I know our whole writers workshop class loved him as well as our school and will miss him so much. Rest In Peace Mr. Anger.”

- Karyme Rivera

“I thought it was awesome that he hand wrote notes to all the graduates this year. I also loved the song and video at the graduation ceremony.”

- Stacey Simmens

“He was the only superintendent I have had that made themselves present at the arts. He was a big supporter of band and he even met with all of the people involved in the one act performance before a show to say hi and good luck.”

- Trevor Solander

“Mr. Anger was an incredible man and a true inspiration. Despite his situation he had such a positive spirit and you never saw him without a big smile on his face. He truly cared about the community and all of the students. He will always be loved and never forgotten. He was someone who made everyone feel special and included. I’m truly heartbroken that he is no longer with us. My mom and I started a non-profit organization called Threads for Teens Minnesota. Mr. Anger believed in our mission to provide at-risk teen girls with new clothing and I will forever be grateful for his love and support. I will miss seeing his big smile all over the school and district office.”

- Grace Myler

“To have both my school age kids come home and say the superintendent was in their class was awesome. The class of 2018 grad ceremony video was amazing. The community lost a great man.”

- Jennifer Stoffers

“Mr. Anger’s passing really hit me hard. He was such an amazing human being. Always so kind, positive and upbeat. Even when he was battling cancer, he didn’t let it get him down. The love that he had for kids radiated from him. From his stopping to talk to students, to his participation in things he didn’t have to attend, to his handwriting of hundreds of notes, it was evident on a daily basis. He was supportive to teachers, subs and coaches. His energy and positivity was exactly what this high school and this community needed. While we were blessed to have him for the time we did, I am tremendously sad for the kids who missed out. He was one of the good ones. One of the people that kids will remember when they are my age, who may have changed the course of some kids lives, and who definitely left an imprint on all of our hearts who had the pleasure of getting to know him.”

- Megan Horan-Hengel

“On the first day of school my senior year, I was in link crew. Essentially, I was a part of the group that ran orientation for the incoming sophomores. Ashley Jirik and I were leading small group ice breaker activities in a classroom, and Mr. Anger walked right in with a huge smile on his face to introduce himself. His smile was contagious. I still have the handwritten note he gave out to all the seniors for graduation. I still have the picture he took of my hockey team when he came to watch us play in Eagan. I still think about that video he played at graduation. He is a part of what makes Shakopee Schools so great!”

- Sophie Stoffers

“In August of 2017 we had our annual custodian lunch. Gary attended and proceeded to personally introduce himself to each of us individually. The man had integrity. We not only lost a great leader for the schools, but lost a great person.”

- Butch Hentges

“I never saw a superintendent in the classroom as much as Gary was. I’d just be teaching on an average day and Gary would stop in to say hello. I can’t imagine how many events he attended per week. I will miss the handwritten notes and I will miss the Song of the Saber e-mails with lyrics from some of my favorite Minneapolis bands. My last time seeing Gary was at The Suburbs show in July. We’ll miss you Gary!”

- Rob Hafermann,


“Gary took the time to talk to me when I had concerns about the budget cuts for the new school year. I went to his office and we talked for over an hour. He was so genuine and honest with me I left feeling that day that what I had to say matters. At the end of our meeting he gave me a hug and said he was available any time I wanted to talk. This man had a special way about him, feeling like I was touched by an angel. Thank you Gary.”

- Barb Norring