HAYFIELD — Hayfield Community Schools is mourning the sudden loss of its band director.
School officials confirmed today that Dennis Conroy, the district's high school and junior high school band director, passed away unexpectedly early this morning. He was 54.
The school received the news from the Dodge County Sheriff's Office.
Superintendent Gregg Slaathaug said Conroy's death was very sudden. Conroy directed the pep band on Tuesday night during the Byron and Hayfield high school girls' basketball game.
"It's been a little surreal," Slaathaug said.
Details concerning Conroy's death were limited this morning. Slaathaug said authorities contacted the district at about 5 a.m. and said Conroy had passed away in his home. Slaathaug was quick to dismiss any social media rumors that might have circulated online regarding the situation. He also said parents of students have been notified.
The Dodge County Sheriff's Office was not available for comment by press time.
Hayfield Community Schools set up three comfort areas in the school building this morning, and counseling was made available to students and staff members who needed support. Other school districts also have reached out to offer their condolences, Slaathaug said.
Conroy directed the junior high and senior high concert bands, fifth-grade beginning band, sixth-grade intermediate band, senior high marching band, senior high pep band and senior high jazz ensemble. He had worked in the Hayfield district for 23 years. Conroy's wife, Sally, works as a speech pathologist in the school district.
"Dennis was very committed to his band program and to his students," Slaathaug said. "I have only been here for three months, and my own children who had him had the utmost respect for him. Our thoughts and prayers go to Sally and Dennis' family. He'll be greatly missed."