Ballard High School teacher John Nygaard passed away yesterday, leaving the high school devastated at his untimely death. Nygaard, a history teacher and former basketball coach, was a 1987 graduate and had been teaching at BHS for eight years. BHS Principal Keven Wynkoop says the students and teachers are shell-shocked; Nygaard is the third staff member they’ve lost in the last nine months.
“Nobody knows for sure why he died,” Wynkoop said this afternoon. “He had been out sick this week with a mild case of pneumonia. He was here Wednesday afternoon and said he was feeling better. He thought he could come back on Monday,” Wynkoop explained.
Last night, a vigil of about 150 placed flowers, candles and notecards outside the school gym. Tonight is the first home basketball game, and Wynkoop says there will be a moment of silence before the game to remember Nygaard. While he didn’t coach this year, Wynkoop says he was well-connected and loved by the players, who have been hit the hardest by the news.
Nygaard, who was born and raised here, is survived by his wife Michelle, and young son, Jakob. A bank account has been set up at the Bank of America to help support his family. It’s called the John Nygaard Memorial Fund, Account # 138101517759.
Principal Wynkoop says Nygaard was someone kids could always go to. “No matter how bad they were doing, they could confide in them. This is leaving a big hole in the heart of the school.”