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Plains community trying to cope with high school coach's death - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Plains community trying to cope with high school coach's death

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(PLAINS) Students and teachers are turning to grief counseling to cope with the loss of high school wrestling coach and staff member Kenny Marjerrison, who died in a head-on crash outside Arlee.

Dennis Bragg found out that Marjerrison was that kind of man whose passing leaves a big gap in the tight-knit community.

Montana Highway Patrol troopers are still trying to figure out why Kenny Marjerrison's Subaru crossed over the centerline on Highway 93 north of Arlee Wednesday afternoon, slamming into an oncoming pickup.

But the questions extend beyond the accident, as his friends and family ask "why" a 34-year old man who did everything for the community is gone.

"All of us were in shock. All of us were in denial. Once we got the one authenticating confirmation that it happened, everybody began the process of picking up the pieces and doing what they can," said Plains Schools Superintendent Tom Chisholm.

"So it was within hours, actually within minutes I would say, administratively, educationally we started the crisis plan for the staff first, students second. And then the family started working and we just started coming together. Everybody's going to take care of one another," Chisholm added.

These kinds of tragedies always hurt. But the loss is especially strong in a place like Plains, where generations of lives are intertwined -- where people pull together and depend on individuals like Marjerrison to show them what it takes to care, to make a difference.

"If you looked at the concentric rings, he was the center of many rings that overlapped. I've witnessed phone calls where he touched wrestling communities, he touched private industry, he touched education, all simultaneously sometimes," Chisholm said.  "And being a family man, and coming from a strong nuclear family and a generational family, in the community, that's not withstanding. It's a tragedy."

Marjerrison was also a key staff member here at the school. His IT training helping many a colleague vexed by today's tech problems. But his leadership in the wrestling program, and working with youth is where he might be missed the most.

Chisholm told MTN News that already the surrounding wrestling programs are diving in, and offering condolences and support during this difficult time.

"Wrestling is a family in and of itself.And they've felt the loss. And they've all stepped up to help with the volunteers programs. Offered condolences, floral bouquets. it's really, really amazing," Chisholm said.

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