WILLIAMSBURG - Catherine Nesmith Perez, 39, of Williamsburg, Va., passed away July 11, 2012, after a courageous battle against breast cancer.
Catherine had an inspiring zest for life, deep passion for adventure, and never ending love for her family and friends.
After traveling the world with her parents and brothers, Catherine attended the University of Virginia, where she double majored in Foreign Affairs and German Language and Literature. Inspired by her father's adventurous spirit and her mother's compassion, Catherine joined the Peace Corps, in Thailand, upon graduation. After a successful and rewarding tour in Thailand teaching children English, Catherine moved to Washington, D.C., in 2000, where she met her husband, Jake Perez, at National Geographic. A fairytale love culminated with their marriage in May of 2003.
Catherine's compassion to work with children led her to pursue an advanced degree at the College of William and Mary. In 2005, she obtained a Master's of Education in School Counseling, earned Phi Beta Kappa Honors, and began her career serving as a guidance counselor at Lafayette, Warhill and Jamestown High Schools.
In 2006, the Perez family welcomed their first child, Katherine, "Katy," Morgan Perez-Nesmith. Soon after Katy's birth, Catherine was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her courage, strength and passion for life allowed her to conquer the disease. She became active in education and advocacy for other victims, speaking at high schools about cancer awareness and was a founding member of Beyond Boobs, a Williamsburg support group. Catherine's passion to increase cancer awareness and support didn't stop there, as she co-founded Relay for Life teams at Lafayette and Warhill High Schools.
Wanting to make a greater impact on youth, Catherine returned to William and Mary and obtained an Education Specialist degree in School Psychology, and again earned Phi Beta Kappa Honors. She worked as a school psychologist in Virginia Beach, always endeavoring to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
In 2010, Jake and Catherine were blessed with a second beautiful daughter, Eliana "Ellie" Rosa Perez-Nesmith. Full of energy, love, passion and zeal, Katy and Ellie represent the very best of Catherine. Catherine's beautiful spirit and legacy lives on in her daughters and in all of the countless lives she touched around the world.
Catherine, you filled our lives with love, light and laughter, and inspired us with your zest for life and adventure. Our hearts are aching, and we will forever miss you. We cannot thank you enough for the precious legacy you have left behind. You made this world a much better place for all of us.
Catherine is survived by her beloved husband and soul mate of nine wonderful years, Jake Perez; her loving daughters, Katherine "Katy" Morgan Perez-Nesmith and Eliana "Ellie" Rosa Perez-Nesmith; her parents, Cathi Nesmith and Vardell E. Nesmith Jr., Colonel, Infantry, Ret.; her brothers and their wives, Vardell E. (Michelle) Nesmith III and Douglas C. (Amanda) Nesmith; and the large and loving extended family of Dr. Joaquin M. and Clemen A. Perez-Febles, Rosa R. Arrieta, Alicia M. (Ricardo) Perez-Arrieta, Virginia P. (Subir) Dutt, Clementina P. (Joseph) West, Pedro J. (Mary) Perez-Arrieta, Agustin D. (Melinda) Perez-Arrieta and Ana M. (David) Perez-Arrieta.
Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, July 16, at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, 215 Richmond Road, Williamsburg. Interment will follow at Williamsburg Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to support breast cancer at either the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) or Beyond Boobs (www.beyondboobsinc.org).
Online condolences may be offered at www.nelsencares.com View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.
Published in Daily Press from July 15 to July 16, 2012