CASPER, Wyo. - At Natrona County High School, Dan May started the semester slouched at his desk in the back of Mr. Krumm’s algebra class. May surprised Krumm by scoring a 95 percent on the first test. Krumm surprised May by taking interest in a long-haired sophomore who seemed unengaged in his class.
“I remember his offbeat sensibilities really helped out a lot of people who could otherwise feel like outsiders. I was one of them,” said May, now a math professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.
“He wrote in my yearbook that I was ‘different,’ but an excellent student. That's just how I like to remember him: different (in a very good way) and an excellent teacher.”
This week, May is struggling to teach his own classes in Idaho while thinking about the teacher who meant so much to him. Krumm and his partner, Casper College math teacher Heidi Arnold, were killed Friday by Krumm’s 25-year-old son. Arnold was stabbed outside the couple’s home on Hawthorne Avenue; Krumm was killed in his Casper College computer science class while teaching.
For those in Casper, Tuesday was a day to remember the good stories. Hundreds gathered in the Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym for the college’s public memorial. Afterward, they lit candles in honor of Krumm and Arnold, their teachers, their colleagues, their friends.
“Like all families, the Casper College family cherishes and celebrates each of its members. We grieve today because a link has been broken in the chain that binds us together,” college President Walter Nolte told the crowd.
“But we remain as a family, and it has been amazing how we have to come together to heal this broken link.”
Arnold, 42, came to Casper College in 2003. She taught math, from pre-algebra arithmetic to calculus 2. She wanted to help students of all backgrounds, learning styles and abilities to overcome math anxiety, she wrote in her curriculum vitae.
Arnold was the “ultimate hippy chick,” a pacifist with a rebellious spirit who adored John Lennon, said speaker Maya Russell, a political science instructor and friend.
Arnold loved Wyoming’s outdoors and sunning herself on Krumm’s sailboat at Alcova. When she and Russell walked along the North Platte River, Arnold often pulled Russell off the paved trails and onto the dirt tracks that hugged the river. She loved travel and last semester took a sabbatical in Hawaii.
“Heidi understood life. She lived life,” Russell said.
But, she didn’t love everything about Casper.
She did not love Casper’s wind, “and believe me, Heidi’s having a little chuckle today at our forecast of 65-mile-per-hour wind gusts,” Russell said.
“Like so many of us from out of state, Casper has a way of growing on you. This was true for Heidi. Jim was the rock that Heidi had been searching for for all those years. He was kind. Gentle. He adored Heidi.”
Bill Mayfield, a custodian at the college for 12 years, came Tuesday to remember Arnold. He used to clean her office, stuffed with several desks so students could get extra help or make up exams. She’d leave a sticky note on Mayfield’s door, asking him to keep the hallway unlocked so they could come and go.
“I’ll tell you how I remember her: Her smile. As big as all Wyoming, with her little rosy cheeks,” Mayfield said. He paused, composed himself, and continued:
“Her twinkling, sparkling eyes, like the stars on a clear summer night. That’s how I’m going to remember her, our Heidi.”
Krumm, 56, taught math at Natrona County High School for 11 years before going to Casper College in 2002. He was the computer science department, teaching every class in the field.
Jared Bowden, a physics instructor and friend, hiked mountains with Jim, sang a Simon and Garfunkel duet with Jim and had the pleasure of seeing him, just home from Florida, unshaven “like a tanned, computer-savvy Santa Claus,” Bowden told the crowd.
Krumm was half Danish, grew up in England and Germany, and then came to Cheyenne. He spent most of his college breaks at his second home in Florida where he could sail and relax on the beach.
“Jim was a special individual, one who always believed in the good of other people. Whether it be his students, his peers or his family,” Bowden said. “He wanted others to enjoy their time on earth as much as he did.”
Chris Hart had Krumm’s 8 a.m. class on Friday morning, but he was the only student to show up. Krumm didn’t care. They went through the computer program Hart was working on, talked and giggled. They razzed each other about the Nebraska football game and Krumm reminded Hart, like he had all semester, to take his girlfriend out to a movie.
Hart left about five minutes before 9 a.m. Minutes later, Krumm would be dead.
“This is me showing him what he’s done,” Hart said at the memorial. “And that I won’t forget him.”
May -- the high-school sloucher turned math professor -- spent many lunch hours in Mr. Krumm’s high school classroom. May wasn't alone. The room was often filled with students who may not have known where they fit in in the halls of NCHS, but who knew just where they fit with Mr. Krumm.
May credits Krumm for his career in mathematics. Shortly after earning his doctorate from the University of Wyoming, May ran into Krumm at a conference in Casper. May thanked Mr. Krumm for inspiring an impressionable, long-haired sophomore. Krumm seemed embarrassed and responded to the praise with humility.
We are colleagues now, May remembers Krumm saying.
Call me Jim.