Elkhorn principal dies in automobile crash in Kansas

The day after the April 5 death of principal Norm Hale in an automobile accident, teachers and staff at St. Patrick Parish and School in Elkhorn gathered at an early morning prayer service.

Hale, 52, in his second year as principal, was killed in Kansas while returning from a trip to Colorado.

An all-school Mass was held after the prayer service, and Father Thomas Fangman, pastor, and Father John Norman, associate pastor, visited with students in each classroom throughout the day. Counselors also were available to students and staff.

“Our entire community is grieving … such a loss of our dear principal. Our prayers are with his family,” Father Fangman said.

Hale also had served six years at Norfolk Catholic elementary and high schools – as an assistant high school principal, assistant coach, activities director and elementary principal – and was preparing to become that school system’s president in July. 

About 250 people had gathered for a rosary at St. Mary Church in Norfolk, led by Father Daniel Andrews, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk, as news spread April 5 of Hale's death.

Hale also was principal of St. Mary School in O’Neill from 2006 to 2009, when he moved to Norfolk. Patrick Slattery, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, said Hale will be missed.

“Norm Hale was a genuine, kind-hearted man who loved education and loved interacting with students on a daily basis,” Slattery said.

Nick Mumm, assistant principal at St. Patrick School, said Hale was faith-filled and kind.

"He was a great mentor and role model, and we'll always appreciate everything he's done for St. Patrick's," Mumm said.

A memorial service was held April 11, at St. Mary Church in Norfolk, with Fathers Fangman, Andrews and Francis Nigli, associate pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha presiding.

Interment was in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Cornlea.

Hale was preceded in death by grandparents; father-in-law, Sam Warth; and sister-in-law Christine Lebbert.

He is survived by wife, Carolyn; sons, Ethan and Logan; granddaughter, Vienna; mother, Carol; brothers, Eddie, Ron and Phil; sisters, Carla and Kim; foster parents, Charles and Suzie McClure; brothers, Mike and Don, mother-in-law, Jeanette Warth; sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.

Memorials recommended to the family.

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