To DEA Members:
It is with profound grief that I am writing to inform our members that one of DEA’s most noble and caring friends, Kathy Williams, passed away on May 29th, 2020. Kathy was a talented and dedicated teacher, an education association colleague, and a passionate leader from the local to the national level.
Kathy taught in the Davenport Community School District for thirty-nine years at Lincoln and Harrison Elementary and Wood Intermediate. She truly believed that being an educator was of a higher calling. She was a master teacher who was a tremendous advocate and activist for children and public educators everywhere. Kathy was a mentor for her students, fellow peers, and union brothers and sisters alike.
Kathy’s joyful personality, charisma, and beautiful smile was always present and welcoming not just to students, but to staff, administrators, and parents. Whenever I read or hear of the term “model teacher” Kathy is one of the first people that I think of. And she had both a natural twinkle in her eyes and a smile that was of the most delightful manner.
Yet, that same “twinkle” would easily turn into a fiery and determined stare of anger and disgust if Kathy thought that there was injustice occurring at any level in our society. Kathy was a fighter who would instantly throw down her gloves if she believed that an individual, group, or organization’s purpose was to wrongfully deny the rights of the few or many. Fair treatment and representation of an individual with due process was an essential part of her ideology and make up. Kathy understood that the strength of a social and governing body was founded in its unity, mission, and leadership. She spent every minute of her day ensuring that these acts of justice were rightfully being carried out.
Though I have been a member of DEA for my entire teaching career, I started becoming more active in union in the early 2000s through the recruitment of Tom Wolfe, Wayne Kratz, and Dan Flaherty. I was elected to be Vice President in 2003 with little or no experience. Kathy instantly understood my dilemma and was always open to offering me valuable advice and instruction on how to handle difficult and trying situations. Her calmness, fortitude, and comprehension of what was right and wrong are traits that I still revere and honor to this day.
Kathy had a curiosity about the world around her. Many of her friends have shared their favorite memories of Kathy such as the small gatherings and events when the teaching or union day was finished. Quaint dinners, short walks, or enjoyable music or plays were some of the ways that Kathy enjoyed herself. She was noted for saying, “Count your life by the smiles and not the tears, count your age by the friends and not years.”
These dire times are burdening our world in ways that no generation has ever experienced. I had not contacted Kathy for a couple of years. She was a magnificent person who also cherished her privacy and I respected that. However, you could always ask Kathy what she thought and count on her great insight and advice. If Kathy was with us today, she would have been one of the first people that I would have reached out to and asked her how she believed that our society needed to change and improve. And I know that her answers would have been as always, profound.
My sincere sympathy to her dear family. I will always reflect upon Kathy’s persona, talents, and skills as a leader, and friend. Rest in Peace Kathy. You will always be missed and greatly remembered.
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I would like to thank Jody Tupper and Tammy Waro for helping me craft and edit this tribute.