Two decades on, victims of the famed Jarrell tornado will be memorialized by a new elementary school opening this fall.
The Jarrell Independent School District board of trustees decided its upcoming campus will be called Igo Elementary, after the family of five who died tragically in 1997.
In all, the May 1997 tornado claimed 27 lives, including Larry and Joan Igo, and their teenage children Audrey, John and Paul. The grand opening for Igo Elementary School will be 10 a.m. July 27 at 1601 CR 314.
“The city of Jarrell still feels the absence of all the lives lost that sad day,” Superintendent Bill Chapman said in a news release. “Naming this beautiful new school after the dearly-loved Igo family honors a very tragic part of our community’s history. And it demonstrates how we are embracing our future by remembering our past.”
Larry Igo’s sister, Linda Igo Cobb, said her family appreciates knowing that those lost will be memorialized at the new school.
“It’s not just for my family, but it’s significant for every family in Jarrell that lost a loved one,” Cobb said. “It’s remembering their lives and honoring the blessing of those lives.”
Chapman said in a follow-up interview that the school district has a specific procedure for naming new schools, and the idea for Igo Elementary came out of that process.
“We put out a nomination form to the public — we had a large number of nominations that came in,” Chapman said.
Those suggested names were passed on to a committee made of parents, community members and staff members, and that group presented three possible names to the board.
The Igo family was very active in the Jarrell community. Joan Igo was a teacher, and her children Audrey, John and Paul were all Jarrell ISD students. Larry Igo ran an auto parts store in town.
Cobb said it is helpful to remember the tornado strike in this way, even if the memory is painful.
“It was such a tragic thing that happened, and people just didn’t want to remember — they didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. “And for those who lost someone, that’s a very hard thing, because you usually need to talk, and you want to remember, and you don’t want people to forget them.”
Cobb said she cried when she heard about the name of the new school.
“This decision … it was such a huge, huge blessing,” Cobb said. “It’s not something to be sad about, it’s something to rejoice over, their lives, over the meaning that they’ve given all of us, and how it’s changed all of us.”