Tribute concert planned in Brookings for late, beloved educator Missy Sagmoe

(Brookings Register file photo)

BROOKINGS — Although May 12, 2022, will be remembered by many in our community for the derecho, many will also remember the 12th of May as the day that Missy Sagmoe, an elementary music teacher in her 24th year of teaching in the Brookings School District, collapsed while rehearsing with her fifth graders for that evening’s choir concert.

Remarkably, Sagmoe survived the brain aneurysm after being flown to Sioux Falls. The following week, Sagmoe awakened from her coma, conversed with family and friends, and appeared to be on the road to recovery. Tragically, Sagmoe died of cardiac arrest on May 24, 2022.

“She is to this day, one of the most incredibly talented singers and musicians that I know. She’s unbelievable.” That was a quote 11 years ago from Shawn Cable, past KSFY meteorologist, singer, and friend of Sagmoe.

Shawn will be flying back to South Dakota from his home on the East Coast to emcee the Missy Sagmoe Tribute Concert on May 21, a concert that aspires to replace some of the profound loss with joy, paying tribute to Sagmoe through music and verbal acknowledgements of the enormous impact that she imprinted on others. Funds raised through a freewill donation and a silent auction will be donated to the Missy Sagmoe Music Endowment, a fund that will support Sagmoe’s passion of ensuring that all fourth graders and accompanying staff will, without financial hardship, attend the annual Youth Symphony Concert in Sioux Falls.

Sagmoe’s musical passion, talents, and encouragement from her voice teacher, Kristi Vensand-Hall, prompted her to participate in the Metropolitan Opera auditions, earning her second place in regionals. Although encouraged by Vensand-Hall to pursue a master’s degree in voice, Sagmoe spent the next 24 years teaching music to fourth and fifth graders in the Brookings School District, touching numerous lives through her love of music, preparing children for Elementary Honor Choir auditions, and directing concerts that prompted audience members to ask, “Does the district realize what an amazing music program Brookings has?”

Current fifth grader Tafney Lun said, “She was really sweet, and she made the things that we were doing fun. Because she was so sweet, I got comfortable around her, and she taught me how to play the ukulele. She was the best music teacher that I ever had.”

Brookings High School sophomore Cadence Cedar said, “Music plays a very large role in my life. If it wasn’t for Miss Sagmoe, I don’t think I would be as devoted to music as I am today. I’m grateful for how much she pushed me to do the things I was too scared to do on my own. She touched the hearts of many students, and I am very thankful that she was able to change and impact my life the way she did.”

Sagmoe’s life left an indelible heart print of love on whoever was fortunate enough to have their life intersect with hers. Her life impacted a multitude of others through her beauty, grace, sense of humor, wit, love, musical and golfing skills, and compassion.

Brookings High School junior Sophia Poppen said, “Miss Sagmoe was much more than a great teacher; she was also a great person. She could never fail to make your day a little brighter. A teacher can’t help or inspire students if they don’t have the heart to in the first place; she had a love for each and every one of her students. She inspired countless others to look at music in a new manner — myself included. She inspired me to teach, as I wish to pursue music education in college and can only dream of making an impact close to what she did. She will forever be missed by students, teachers, and friends.”

Her love and light that enveloped others has been sorely missed by Sagmoe’s family, her church family, present and past students, co-workers, the BSD and SDSU community, and friends. Her impact was immeasurable.

Long-time friend Avis Beninga said, “What she meant to so many of us is hard to put into words.”

It is difficult to capture Sagmoe’s essence, as she was just too bright a light to effectively give justice to her in the written word. This has been a tough loss for many. We hope this concert will provide some of that missing light and help people continue to heal and share that love with others.

Missy Sagmoe Tribute Concert

• Where: First Lutheran Church, 337 Eighth St.

• When: 3 p.m. May 21

• Funds raised: donated to the Missy Sagmoe Music Endowment

• Silent auction items include: Gift certificates to various locales, rounds of golf, birdhouses, a weekly smoothie for a year, instrument lessons, themed baskets provided by Brookings’ schools and Faith Reformed Church, and others