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Gone Too Soon

By Staff | Mar 8, 2012

A pair of lonely floral bouquets on the shoulder of Highway 18 east of Cylinder mark the scene of Monday’s crash that claimed the life of Emmetsburg High School faculty member Ron Menneke. The flowers, left by students, bear the simple message, “I Miss You Mr. Menneke.” --Dan Voigt photo

A head-on collision Monday morning east of Cylinder claimed the life of an Algona man and sent shockwave rolling through the Emmetsburg High School. Ron Menneke, 47, a mathematics instructor at Emmetsburg since 2000, was killed in the collision three miles east of Cylinder on U.S. Highway 18.

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a collision involving a car and semi at 7:42 a.m. Monday, March 5. Sheriff’s deputies, along with the Emmetsburg Ambulance and Cylinder Fire Department were immediately dispatched to the scene. An enforcement officer from the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa State Patrol also responded to the scene.

As the first emergency responders arrived at the scene, the Emmetsburg Fire Department’s Jaws of Life were requested along with a second ambulance.

The driver of the semi, 39-year old Craig Mitchell Klatt of Sheldon, was transported to the Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg for treatment of injuries and was later released. However, Menneke, the driver of the second vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene.

In its’ preliminary investigation, Troopers with the Iowa State Patrol determined that a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero driven by Menneke was westbound on Highway 18, when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle crossed the centerline of the roadway and collided head-on with an eastbound 2010 Freightliner semi tractor driven by Klatt. The semi came to rest in the south ditch of the roadway following the collision while the Menneke vehicle came to rest on the north shoulder of the roadway. The Iowa State Patrol is continuing their investigation into the circumstances of the collision.

Ron Menneke, left, is pictured with Grand Master Soon Ho Lee in 2003 after earning the rank of Master in the art of TaeKwonDo. --submitted photo

As word of the tragedy reached Emmetsburg High School, faculty members held a brief meeting before a convocation was called in the auditorium, where the student body was informed of the news. Counselors were called to the school and were on hand to assist students following the announcement.

A memorial Facebook page was created midway through the day with numerous posts being added as current and former students shared their memories of Menneke, or Mr. Menn. After school dismissed, a group of students numbering around 100 traveled to Menneke’s home in Algona to pay their respects to his wife Stephanie and three young daughters, Kayelynn, Chloe and Cassandra.

As the sun rose Tuesday morning, 24 hours after the crash, two bouquets of flowers stood along Highway 18 at the crash site, both bearing cards with the inscription, “I miss you Mr. Menneke”, a poignant tribute to a teacher, husband, father and friend.

Visitation for Ronnie W. Menneke has been set for this evening, Thursday, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 1923 East McGregor in Algona. Funeral Services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday, March 9 at the Emmetsburg High School, 205 King Street, in Emmetsburg.

There will be no classes in the Emmetsburg Community School District on Friday, March 9.