St. Paul school board chairwoman dies after long battle with COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of nearly 1,200 Minnesotans.
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Marny Xiong

Marny Xiong, the 31-year-old chairwoman of the St. Paul Public Schools board, has died after a lengthy bout with COVID-19. 

Word of Xiong's death was made public Sunday by her family. 

"Our hearts are in pieces as we share the news that our beloved daughter and sister, Marny Xiong, passed away on Sunday, June 7, 2020 following a month long courageous battle with the Coronavirus," a statement on a GoFundMe campaign says. 

"We prepared a celebration for her return and waited, and waited but she never came home. We prayed and prayed for a miracle but none was granted."

Xiong was admitted for hospital care in early May, according to a Facbook post from her sister, Amee Xiong, who wrote at the time that Marny and their father, who has since recovered, were both "relying heavily on the ventilator to get oxygen to their lungs." 

"Marny will be remembered as an inspiring community organizer, a courageous leader and fierce champion for education, gender equity, and racial justice. She was a selfless public servant who made the community’s problems her duty to solve," the family's statement says. "To those who knew her, Marny was more than a loving daughter, aunt, niece, cousin, a devoted friend and sister. She was beautiful; she was a book of generosity and fire."

The fundraiser has so far raised in excess of $21,000 to help pay for medical and funeral expenses. You can donate here

Here is a joint statement issued Sunday by St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard and Board of Education Vice Chair Jeanelle Foster. 

"Our hearts are broken with the news of the passing of our friend, colleague and Board Chair Marny Xiong. There are no words that can reflect the loss that we, our school district and our community have suffered.

"Those of us who were fortunate to know Marny and work with her have been inspired by her tireless efforts to support our students, fight for inclusion and never give in to those who would divide us. As a lifelong Saint Paul resident and SPPS graduate, Marny exemplified the very best of our schools and our community. She was a proud Hmong woman and a respected leader throughout the State of Minnesota. Marny was passionate about uplifting students; she was focused on equity; and she never stopped her efforts to make sure all students and families were welcome and represented in SPPS.

"We will honor her by continuing her fight to break down and remove barriers to and within our educational system.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Marny’s family and many friends during this very difficult time. Each of us has learned and grown thanks to our relationship with Marny. Her spirit and her passion for student inclusion and achievement live on in each of us; may her light shine on in what we do for our students and how we treat those around us."

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