Kathryn Barry Truax, an elementary school teacher recalled for her classroom presence, died of leukemia Dec. 2 at her Ruxton home. She was 30.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton, she was a 2000 graduate of the Bryn Mawr School, where she played basketball and lacrosse.
"Her smile greeted everyone, be it a friend or an acquaintance. She always had a kind word, an infectious laugh and a great sense of humor," said Gita Deane, who had taught her and is now on the Goucher College faculty. "She was admired and loved by students and faculty because she was accepting of everyone. The essence of Kathryn was she was aware of other people around her. She never wanted to be a source of grief. She wanted to be the light in the room."
"I met Kate on our first day of fifth grade at Bryn Mawr. Even at age 10, Kate had a presence in the classroom. Growing up and throughout her teens, she had a really great way of relating to kids," said a friend, Aniko Schwarcz, who lives in Washington, D.C.
"Kate later reflected on how she could best be of service to her community. When she thought back to what she loved and what inspired her to be her best, the choice to go into teaching became clear."
Ms. Truax earned an art history degree at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
She became a teacher and joined the faculty of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic School in Bethesda.
Its principal, Patricia McGann, called her a "remarkable woman known by every child in this school."
She said that she began work at the school as a young college graduate and taught the fifth grade and literature to the sixth- and seventh-graders.
"She was a book lover," Ms. McGann said. "There would be days she would go into the library and just start reading spontaneously to the first-graders."
She recalled that Ms. Truax had a sense of what her students needed and that she was the "first person" to offer help.
"There was stuff everywhere in her classroom because she always had so much going on," said Ms. McGann, who lives in Bethesda. "Sometimes learning is messy and loud."
After her diagnosis, she underwent chemotherapy but returned to the classroom after treatments.
"Her students will never forget the courage she showed," Ms. McGann said. "Some days I do not know how she walked in the front door."
She said when the students saw that she had lost her hair, about 100 boys shaved their heads to show their concern. The school's girls cut their hair and donated it for "Locks of Love."
Her father, Charles Barry Truax, a Ruxton resident, said that she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. She later developed leukemia.
More than a year ago she became the school's director of development and worked with its alumni. She had planned to return to the classroom in September.
"There was something profoundly generous about Kate," said Elizabeth Manekin, a friend who lives in New Haven, Conn.
"She also had great taste. Kate was the first of my friends to have what felt like an adult apartment. I remember entering it often to the sound of Smokey Robinson or Edith Piaf. She was a wonderful cook and you'd find back issues of Food and Wine all over the place. Perhaps the influence of the students she taught, Kate also indulged in a little Justin Bieber and the 'Twilight' series."
Ms. Truax lived in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, D.C., until several years ago, when she returned to Baltimore. Family members said she enjoyed vacations on Cape Cod and sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. She also ran and bicycled and was a Bruce Springsteen fan.
A Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
In addition to her father, survivors include her mother, Carla Wimmer Truax, and a sister, Sarah Truax, both of Ruxton.