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COMMUNITY BANDS TOGETHER FOR KATH

Tributes continue to pour in for the late Kathryn (“Kath”) O’Connor, the long-serving, much-admired and respected teacher, who died last Thursday at the age of 64.

Fellow teachers, parents and former pupils have all acknowledged the life of a woman who truly cared for the many who make up the Parade College community.

News of Kath’s untimely passing has already triggered a seismic response on facebook with more than 21,300 people reached. Amongst those to have expressed their condolences via the forum are Frances Cardamone, who wrote of Kath: “My son had her for English in Year 7 and he thought she was a great teacher and a very nice lady. I remember bonding with her over our shared love of books at parent/teacher interviews. May she RIP”.

Janeta Nedanovska Melich wrote: “I will never forget you Kath. I can still hear your comforting words when I was upset. May you Rest in Peace”.

A former student, Andrew Bennett (2000) spoke for many Old Paradians, in describing Kath as “far and away my favourite teacher during my time at Parade”. Daniel James, a final year pupil of 2008, remembered his former mentor as “a beautiful lady with the biggest heart and incredible wit! I owe a lot to you Kath. Rest in peace”.

And Michael Fraser (2000), in tribute to Kath, posted: “What a fantastic teacher and a great inspiration to me. Thank you for helping me develop an interest in writing”.

Anne-Marie Morello, on behalf of fellow teachers Anthony Cicutto and Marisa Cora, similarly remembered Kath with great affection.

“Kath was a much loved colleague and most importantly a loyal friend of ours for over 30 years,” Anne-Marie said.

“Kath was fun to work with and her quirky personality was both infectious and uplifting. She put a smile on our faces with her dry sense of humour. Behind all of this was an extremely dedicated and influential teacher.

“Kath holds a special place in our hearts and we will truly miss her.”

Justine Barnes, who worked closely with Kath for many years, remembered her friend as an up-front member of the teaching fraternitywho made an impressive contribution to the college through her hard work and dedication.

“Kath loved education and was passionate about making a difference to the boys she taught here at Parade,” Justine said.

“Kath was thorough and competent. She needed to be commended for her old school methods that really worked. Kath was bright, knowledgeable and full of wisdom. She would lend a hand to her peers whether they were experienced or graduates. She made time for others and, as many have said, she called a spade a spade. She was never afraid to be anything but herself. This made her endearing to so many staff and students.”

One of Kath’s many endearing qualities, according to Justine, was the capacity to share a laugh.

“Kath was known for her wicked sense of humour. She could dish it out, but she could also take it,” Justine said.

“We were all certain that her dear friend, Tony Mackay, only came to Preston to torment her not to meet with John Nicholls. Kath had been the butt of his jokes for decades. Kath knew Tony’s jokes so well that she would often agree with him then finish the joke and start laughing and rolling her eyes at him. She was good fun.”

Justine added that whilst the entire Parade College community mourned the loss of a humble woman and friend, “we are eternally grateful for Kath’s love of her craft - and for the lives of students and staff that she touched on a daily basis”.

Kath O’Connor will be farewelled this Friday, August 4 (commencing 2:30pm) at White Lady Funerals Chapel, 174 Burgundy Street, Heidelberg.

Please note that the chapel is a small venue which seats around 40 people, with standing room provision for another 40.

David O’Connor has extended an invitation to anyone wishing to raise a glass to his mother, to attend a ‘wake’ for Kath at the Old England Hotel, 459 Lower Heidelberg Road, Heidelberg, after the funeral.