POTOSI, Mo. (KMOV.com) – The Potosi R-3 School District in eastern Missouri is mourning the loss of a beloved teacher.
In a letter to the community Monday, Superintendent Alex McCaul announced that Ashlee DeMarinis, 34, had died. DeMarinis was a special education teacher at John Evans Middle School.
"The kids absolutely adored her. She was a brilliant special ed teacher," said Mandy Blanks, a friend and former coworker.
According to her friends, DeMarinis died Sunday at Missouri Baptist Medical Center after battling complications from COVID-19 for three weeks.
"She paid for kids supplies at school. When they needed clothes she took care of them. She became a mother to many of these kids," Kim Coleman said.
“Ms. DeMarinis was a wonderful teacher loved by students, staff and members of our community,” McCaul wrote. “Her commitment and passion for her students and community to succeed should be an inspiration for all of us. Ms. DeMarinis touched many lives as an educator and will be missed dearly by our community.”
A sister, who is a COVID ward nurse in New York City, flew to St. Louis and was able to visit with DeMarinis in her final days, according to Annie Saunders, a friend and neighbor. Saunders said the sister was able to read to DeMarinis the cards and letters from friends and coworkers telling her how much she was loved and supported.
"This town and this school district will definitely feel the loss forever," Saunders said.
A public visitation for DeMarinis is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16 from 4-8 p.m. and Thursday, September 17 from 9-10:30 a.m. at DeClue Funeral Home in Potosi. A funeral mass will be held Thursday, September 17 at 11 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Potosi.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated DeMarinis worked at Charles Evans Middle School.