Fraser copes with teacher’s death

By: Maria Allard, Nico Rubello | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 15, 2012

Fraser Public Schools officials offered emotional support and grief counseling after news of an elementary school teacher’s death left many community members mourning.

The body of Robert Wingert, 26, was found the afternoon of June 13 in the backyard of his Rivergate subdivision home in Clinton Township, according to a police detective. Investigators and the Macomb County Medical Examiners Office determined the death to be an apparent suicide.

Wingert, a 2003 Fraser High School graduate, was a physical education teacher at Edison Elementary and Mark Twain Elementary schools. Wingert also coached the Fraser High School track teams. He resigned from the district June 13, the same day of his passing.

A candlelight vigil to remember the popular teacher was held at the district’s football stadium June 13, after the community heard the grim news.

“The kids organized it,” Fraser Public Schools Superintendent David Richards said. “There were probably 300 or 400 kids and their parents in attendance.”

The community is trying to cope with the loss.

“There is a lot of heartbreak. There is a lot of sadness. There is a lot of confusion,” Richards said. “The kids are trying to understand this great sense of loss.”

Richards described Wingert “as a very engaged teacher.”

“He had a pretty strong relationship with the parents and the kids,” the superintendent said.

The superintendent sent home a letter to district parents Wednesday about the incident. The letter stated school officials were notified of Wingert’s “tragic death” the evening of June 13.

“During this difficult time, we express our sympathies to the family,” Richards stated in the letter.

A crisis response team was made available June 14 at Fraser High School to provide emotional support and grief counseling to students, staff and members of the community. The counseling was offered on a drop-in basis, and Richards encouraged the use of the services.

“During times of tragedy it is important that we come together to provide care and support for friends and family members,” Richards stated. “If your family has experienced a recent similar loss, the death of Mr. Wingert may bring up a range of emotions.

“Again, we ask that you keep Mr. Wingert’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this stressful time,” the letter stated. “The district leadership will continue to provide updates in the days ahead.”

Clinton Township Detective Jim Hall said a suicide note was found in Wingert’s house. Wingert was married, but he did not have children. The week of June 11 marked the last week of school for the year.

Visitation for Wingert was scheduled from 3-9 p.m. June 15 at Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, Inc., located at 54880 Van Dyke at 25 Mile Road in Shelby Township. A memorial service was scheduled at 11 a.m. June 16 at the funeral home.