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Woodbury native Beth McAulay died Jan. 28 of alpha hemolytic streptococcus, a rare bacterial infection, at the age of 38. A memorial is planned to be erected this spring at Woodbury High School and will include a sugar maple tree, which will turn red in the fall, and a bench.

A 'true Royal' dies

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People who knew Woodbury native Beth McAulay. say she touched their lives in more ways than one.

"Beth was the most determined, ambitious person," said Oakdale resident Stephanie Tangen, a 1992 Woodbury High School graduate and classmate of McAulay.'s. "She was completely selfless and she would give you anything she could.

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"She was so much to so many people."

McAulay., who was currently living in Littleton, Colo., working as a paramedic and firefighter, died Jan. 28 of alpha hemolytic streptococcus, a rare bacterial infection, at the age of 38.

A visitation service will be held from 4-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Wulff Funeral Home in Woodbury. Her funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Saint Ambrose Catholic Church in Woodbury.

"It was a real loss to lose Beth," said Sarah Craig, a Woodbury resident and classmate of McAulay.'s. "It was too soon - she was really in the prime of her life."

During her time at WHS, McAulay was known for her dedication to marching band, where she played clarinet, her love of cowboy boots and her continued presence at high school sporting events, where she could always be found cheering on the teams.

"She was just being a leader in that way," Craig said. "She was just a true Royal."

In addition to her school spirit, McAulay was also recognized for her fiery red hair and 4-foot 9-inch stature.

"She was our little ginger," Tangen said.

In terms of her personality Craig and Tangen said she was the kind of person who would always put others first, which is why it made sense that she became a paramedic and firefighter.

"She would do anything she could to make you feel better," Tangen said. "It was never about her."

"She was always thinking about others and what she could do for them," Craig said.

McAulay was also known for her determination.

"Nothing could stop her," Tangen said. "If she was going to do it, she was going to do it."

McAulay, an outdoors enthusiast, spent the past 15 years working as an emergency medical technician, paramedic and firefighter for the communities of Lake Geneva, Wis., communities in northern Illinois and ultimately Colorado.

Lake Geneva resident Paul Blount, who worked with McAulay as a paramedic, said he and McAulay became very close friends while working together.

"My time with her at work was very memorable," he said. "Our work family is our second family."

Blount said McAulay would always tell him how much she loved helping others.

"She got such satisfaction from being able to make a difference," he said.

Blount said McAulay's great sense of humor helped when they were in difficult situations.

"She would find the just right times to lighten the mood even in a tough job with lots of tragedy and trauma," he said. "She found a way to be positive and have fun."

When McAulay decided to move away from the Midwest and head to Colorado, Craig said it was very inspirational for her.

"We had some really long conversations about where life had gone and how she was looking for a change," Craig said. "In doing that, I realized what an amazing person she had become.

"She was blazing her own path in life and being true to herself - I really took inspiration from that."

Since McAulay had made such an impact on the WHS family, Tangen has decided to erect a memorial at the school in her honor.

Tangen, along with other high school classmates of McAulay's, will plant a sugar maple tree, which will turn red in the fall.

The memorial, which is expected to be erected this spring, will also include a bench that will include both a cowboy boot, an EMT boot and a plaque.

The bench will be created by a former WHS art teacher.

"It's my way of keeping her alive," said Tangen who launched the idea for a memorial.

"I think a lot of times people are honored for being the best athlete or being the best in something," Craig said. "Beth just really gave her whole heart to the school and it was such a sad thing to have her get this illness and pass away - she had such a fighting spirit that we just really felt that she should be honored."

Donations can be made to help fund the Beth McAulay memorial at Woodbury High School by visiting https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/10885.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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