Courage and Beauty

Kathleen Marie Wills Verrill: A Tribute

Kathie, as she preferred to be called, joined our family when I was still in college. She had met and married my brother a few months before my brother introduced her to us.

Born with cerebral palsy, she spent most of her childhood in the shadows. The youngest of three girls, her mother was embarrassed by Kathie’s physical appearance, locking her in a closet when visitors came to their home. Before entering college, she worked at various jobs to pay for extensive orthodontics to improve her facial structure.

Kathie was very intelligent, graduating from University of California, Berkeley with a Masters’ Degree in Education. Once she had attained her degree, she began teaching in elementary schools, with a specialty in children with special educational needs. She had a wonderful sense of humor and loved hippos.

Her skills in her field earned her a place in the Who’s Who in Education throughout her career. Although she frequently had to leave positions to find new employment due to my brother’s career in the Veterans Administration, she was successfully employed as a valued educator from Maine to California, for the 40 years of their marriage and her professional life.

Kathie was forced to retire from teaching shortly after her 60th birthday when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. At the same time, she suffered from severe back pain due to her physical impairment which led to several surgical procedures to relieve her pain. For the last fifteen years of her life, she was housebound and finally bed-ridden.

Throughout her life, despite all her challenges, Kathie never asked “Why me?” Her quiet faith, self-determination, and her confidence in her abilities were her strengths and inspirational for everyone who knew her.

She loved fine things and enjoyed collecting all of these China pieces.This Lenox china demonstrates her love of excellence and are an example of her undaunted spirit, even in her last days.

 

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