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Feb 08
MCC planning tributes honoring instructor

Clay Grizzle memorial service Tuesday at 10 a.m. on campus

In the wake of the unexpected death of McCook Community College Speech and Theater Instructor Clay Grizzle, the college has announced several opportunities to help his family, his college family, and the community, celebrate his life and the impact he made.

"Our college family has suffered a huge loss," said MCC Vice President Kelly Rippen. "We want to create as many opportunities as we can for everyone to celebrate and remember Clay. It will never feel like enough, but it's a start."

She said several student-driven tributes will take place starting tonight and continuing through his memorial service Tuesday.

Tonight at the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center, between the women's and men's basketball games against Northeastern Junior College starting at 5:30 p.m., the college will honor Grizzle in a brief ceremony with flowers on his favorite bleacher seat and a display in the VIP room which includes a poster available for anyone to sign and share memories.

Following the games, MCC students are holding a candle-light vigil at the Weeth Theater in Tipton Hall.

On Monday night starting at 6:30 p.m., Sehnert's Bakery & Bieroc Café will host an open house setting for "An Evening of Remembrance" for students and community members.

   The memorial service for Grizzle is set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the main gym of the Events Center with a reception to follow on the west side of the gym floor. Classes between 9:30 a.m. and noon will not meet. 8 a.m. classes and those starting at noon or later will meet as usual. 

Rippen said upon learning of Grizzle's death college staff brought the entire MCC family together at the student union Wednesday to begin the process of celebrating Clay's life and providing support, including counseling services to students, faculty and staff.

All speech and theater classes for the remainder of the week were cancelled but Rippen said right away a number of MCC faculty, staff and other qualified individuals in the area offered to step up and help the resumption of his classes starting Monday.

Around campus, people have been leaving tribute post-in notes and a floral arrangement near Grizzle's office in Walsh-Brady Hall.

Grizzle came to MCC in the summer of 2013 having been a professor of theater/drama at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, and had more than 35 years of teaching and theater production experience. He held a B.A. degree in Psychology, M.A. in Communication and is ABD in Fine Arts, Theater.

In his second year at MCC, he staged a one night, 911-themed production of "The Guys" which raised more than $5,300 to help the McCook Fire Department purchase of a cutoff saw and specialized chainsaw for the McCook Fire Department.

In 2018, he helped put together a summer theater camp for MCC's Summer Kid's Academy capped by the musical production of "Honk." During this past semester he also reached out to McCook High School's music and theater departments to initiate an extensive on-stage partnership which involved almost 70 people to produce "High School Musical."

His past MCC productions have included: "Leaving Iowa," 'A Christmas Carol," "A Christmas Carol More Or Less," "Proof," "Lettice and Lovage," "Defying Gravity," "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," "Black Comedy," "The Boys Next Door," "And The Rains Came To Mayfield," and "Sylvia."

"He had an enormous impact on our college and our community, and we will cherish all the wonderful memories," Rippen said.

Heather Johnson
Area Communications Specialist

Heather produces and distributes press releases for the college. She began work at MPCC in 2014. Prior to that, she spent five years as the news director/web manager for Eagle Radio in North Platte. From 2009-2014 she worked as a reporter/photographer for The North Platte Telegraph. Heather has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Chadron State College.

Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator​​​