UPDATE: emotional tributes to Principal Bruce Dahmen pour in at - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: emotional tributes to Principal Bruce Dahmen pour in at Sunday celebration

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MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- Some 2-thousand people packed the Memorial High School gymnasium Sunday afternoon for a Celebration of Life Ceremony honoring former Principal Bruce Dahmen.

After the gym reached capacity, those wishing to take in the ceremony were funneled into overflow rooms where a live broadcast could be viewed, said Madison school district spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson.

Dahmen passed away Tuesday while in Tennessee watching a former student play basketball. He was 61.

Dahmen began his career at Memorial as a student teacher in 1974. He became Principal in 2005. In total, Dahmen's time at Memorial spanned 40 years.

"He loved this place," said Dahmen's wife Peggi. "You all really are family. He's touched your life and you've touched his."

"Looking out today and seeing so many familiar faces, I know Bruce would be so proud," she said.

Dahmen was also a longtime football, basketball and baseball coach.

"Bruce had a special talent for needling officials," said friend Matt Gray. "He knew just how much he could get away with."

"I can't even tell you how many makeup calls he got for his teams," Gray added with a chuckle.

But Dahmen's biggest impact came in the classroom, Gray said.

"When working with a student, Bruce would ask, 'what's the best thing about this kid?'" he said. "He never focused on the negative attributes others saw."  

"If it's true that the measure of success is how many people are better off because you have lived, then Mr. Dahmen has reached a level of success unparalleled to anyone else I know," said Joel Nellis, a 2001 Memorial HS graduate.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Memorial High School and the Dahmen Family are holding a special celebration today to honor Principal Bruce Dahmen who died this past week.  The event is open to the public.

The celebration begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, the doors will open and seating begins at 1 p.m.  Attendees should enter the Memorial Parking Lot from Mineral Point Road.  Additional parking is available at Madison College across Gammon Road from the school.  The District encourages people to carpool to ensure parking for as many guests as possible.

Inside, the school will have overflow spaces where the celebration will be broadcast.  Anyone can watch from their homes as well by watching the live stream here.

Principal Bruce Dahmen died February 11th while in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife to watch former Memorial basketball player, Jeronne Maymon, who plays for the University of Tennessee.

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