WORTHINGTON - Mary Beth Blegen, who was selected as the 1996 National Teacher of the Year, died early Monday at age 72 after a short battle with cancer.

Blegen was a longtime humanities teacher at Worthington High School - having started there in 1967 - when she was first named Minnesota Teacher of the Year and then National Teacher of the Year, the honor marked with a ceremony April 23, 1996, with then-President Bill Clinton in the Rose Garden of the White House. Blegen spent the next year traveling the country and the world as part of her official TOY duties.

She went on to work for the U.S. Department of Education under the Clinton administration from 1997-2000. Most recently, she had been a consultant for the St. Paul schools.

Blegen’s family includes her three children, Kristy Blegen Grigsby, Mark Blegen and Sarah Blegen LaBelle, and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be hosted at 11 a.m. Friday at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul. The visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at the same church.

A more in-depth story on Blegen’s life and career will be printed in the Daily Globe later this week.