Students, colleagues remember Gregg Hartney, retired Jenks teacher killed in car crash

Colleagues and former students remember Gregg Hartney, a retired Jenks teacher who died Oct. 25, 2016 in a car crash. (KTUL)

JENKS, Okla. (KTUL) -- It's been a tough 24 hours for Jenks Public Schools after losing a longtime teacher in a car crash Tuesday.

Former students and colleagues remembered Gregg Hartney, who retired from the district in 2015.

"He had stories for days, some of them we heard hundreds of times, some of them once or twice, they'd kind of surprise you," said Mercedes Millberry Fowler.

She says she's still in shock after the death of her former teacher.

"He really helped everyone understand it wasn't just about the class and the activity, it was about being a better person," said Fowler.

The 66-year-old former debate coach died Tuesday after his car hit a semi off Highway 33 near Mannford.

Before his retirement, Hartney taught speech and debate for nearly 40 years, 15 of those in Jenks.

"You can't be a lifelong educator and not love students, and that was obvious he loved working with students," said Eric Fox, associate principal at Jenks High School.

Fox worked alongside Hartney for some time, growing close to the successful debate coach.

But it's not trophies Hartney is being remembered for.

"Trophies didn't matter as much as the difference he was making in the lives of young people, so I think that's the trophy case you can't display, it's the way he touched the hearts of young people," said Fox.

Jenks Public Schools will honor Hartney at a 1 p.m. memorial service Sunday at the Jenks Performing Arts Complex.

The crash remains under investigation.

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