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Friends remember Wake County school board member after sudden death

September 25, 2018

The death Monday of a current member of the Wake County Board of Education prompted organizers of a school board candidate forum to cancel.

Kathy Hartenstine, the district 7 representative, had served on the board for less than two years. She finished the term of Zora Felton, who passed away in November 2016. Hartenstine’s cause of death was not announced.

Her family issued this statement:

Coworkers and friends on Monday night were remembering Hartenstine as a kind and dedicated educator.

“Nobody is ever prepared for loss of someone you know and care about, but it’s very difficult when you feel like you just saw a person jovial and in good spirits,” Wake County school board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said.

Johnson-Hostler said she was making calls and trying to figure out what to do through the shock of news that Hartenstine died Sunday night at age 68.

“The things that she taught me will be the things that I’ll try to be reflective on. As a consummate educator, she knows that we always put students and the people, our human capital, first,” Johnson-Hostler said.

Hartenstine had spent 35 years as a teacher and principal before serving on the school board. Friends said her loss is felt far and wide, but her contributions and spirit won’t soon be forgotten.

“That, I will say, is the beauty of someone with that kind of personality is we’ll always be able to remember what she would say and what she would want us to do,” Johnson-Hostler said.

Candidates running in districts 5 and 8 were to take questions from the public Monday night in Cary, but Marian Lewin, president of the League of Women Voters of Wake County, canceled the forum in the wake of Hartenstine’s death

A planned meeting of the District 3 Board Advisory Council scheduled Monday was also canceled.

A second candidate forum, for Wake Board of Education candidates representing Eastern Wake County (districts 1 and 3) will be held on Oct. 4.

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