'She was a book of generosity and fire': St. Paul school board chair Marny Xiong dies from COVID-19

Mary Xiong, 31, of St. Paul, died June 7

Woman speaking at a podium.
St. Paul school board chair Marny Xiong speaks during a press conference on March 13, following a tentative agreement with St. Paul educators to end a strike. Xiong died from COVID-19 on Sunday, her family announced.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Through conversations with their family members, colleagues and close friends, MPR News is remembering the lives of the people we’ve lost, too soon, to COVID-19. If you’d like to share the story of someone you’ve lost to COVID-19, please email us at tell@mpr.org.


St. Paul school board chair Marny Xiong died Sunday morning of COVID-19, after she was hospitalized for a month in critical condition, according to her family. She was 31.

"We prepared a celebration for her return and waited, and waited but she never came home," Xiong's family said in a statement posted online. "We prayed and prayed for a miracle but none was granted."

Xiong grew up on the east side of St. Paul and earned her college degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She served as school administrative manager at Hmong International Academy in Minneapolis. She was elected to the St. Paul school board in 2017 and became chair earlier this year.

"Marny will be remembered as an inspiring community organizer, a courageous leader and fierce champion for education, gender equity, and racial justice," her family wrote. "She was a selfless public servant who made the community’s problems her duty to solve. To those who knew her, Marny was more than a loving daughter, aunt, niece, cousin, a devoted friend and sister. She was beautiful; she was a book of generosity and fire."

Xiong's family said "she dedicated almost all her adult life towards education because she believed education was a foundation to dismantling structural racism.”

In a joint statement, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard and school board Vice Chair Jeanelle Foster wrote: “Those of us who were fortunate to know Marny and work with her have been inspired by her tireless efforts to support students, fight for inclusion and never give in to those who would divide us.” They added that they would “honor her by continuing to fight to break down and remove barriers to and within the educational system.”

A GoFundMe page continues to raise money to cover medical and funeral costs. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Through conversations with their family members, colleagues and close friends, MPR News is remembering the lives of the people we’ve lost, too soon, to COVID-19. If you’d like to share the story of someone you’ve lost to COVID-19, please email us at tell@mpr.org.

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