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Students honor White Station High School teacher who died with flu-like symptoms

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County students are mourning the loss of beloved White Station High School English teacher Emily Poe, whose family members say had flu-like symptoms before she died.

Leslie Fargotstein fondly reads from a card and remembers how much her sister-in-law Emily Poe loved writing advice to her nephews.

“Hang with solid people of integrity," she read.

Poe was 69 when she died last week. Her siblings say she told them she had the flu before it happened. Doctors ruled her official cause of death as cardiac arrest.

Her sister wants other women to know: “Don’t self-diagnose yourself. Go to the emergency room. I’ve heard that time and time again, and maybe she didn’t heed that,” Susan Theran said.

But her siblings said her life also left behind a legacy of helping others. Poe was a sister, aunt, friend and English teacher at White Station High School.

“She came back to Memphis in her late 40s to start over. She was looking for the right career path to make a difference. She took teaching seriously,” her brother Bill Fargotstein said.

By all accounts, her dedication made a difference. Her lessons were bigger than literature; they spoke of inclusion and love.

“She was a free spirit. She inspired these children because she was different in a way - in a good positive way,” Theran said.

Her family members said they’d heard from countless students in the week since she died and it meant the world to them, making their grieving time a little easier.