Kathleen Elizabeth Woods
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August 3, 2014 at Alive Hospice. Kathy Woods was born on June 16, 1950 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the oldest daughter of Granville Cecil Woods Jr. and Marie Cartinhour Woods.
Her father's life as an Episcopal priest and theologian took her family to Alexandria, Virginia; Dyersburg, Tennessee; New Haven, Connecticut; and Oxford, England; but it was Sewanee, Tennessee that was home for Kathy. The simplicity and natural beauty of her childhood in Sewanee stayed with her throughout her life.
Kathy was educated at the Sewanee Elementary School and Greycotes School in Oxford, England. She graduated from St. Mary's School in Sewanee, then from Hollins University, having studied at Oxford University for two years. She received her Masters in Education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.
Kathy Woods was a natural teacher. Fascinated and delighted by her own children's learning, she became a preschool teacher at Children's House of Nashville. She followed her children, Josephine and Cecil VanDevender, to University School of Nashville, where she was the beloved Head of the Lower School. After her retirement from University School, she taught mindfulness meditation and Qigong with her husband, Gordon Peerman, at Insight Nashville. Her commitment to sharing these mindfulness practices with people of all ages led her to convene Mindfulness in Nashville Education, a collaboration between public and private school educators and community members.
Kathy had a warm sense of humor, a sharp analytical mind, and wide-ranging interests, including literature, music, spiritual practice, and the natural world. But it was Kathy's peacefulness and kindness that most drew people to her. Her quiet reserve and thoughtfulness helped people of all ages feel at ease in her presence. Able to understand and harmonize different points of view without calling attention to herself, she wanted everyone to know they belonged. University School's ideals of inclusivity and respect for differences resonated deeply within her.
Kathy was a dedicated board member at University School and at St. Mary's Sewanee, a center for spiritual development. There she led retreats and taught in the One River Wisdom School with her husband, Gordon, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro.
She is survived by her mother, Marie Cartinhour Woods, and her three sisters, Ellen, Margaret, and Caroline Woods; her husband, Gordon Peerman; her children, Josephine VanDevender Ward (Giles) and Cecil Woods VanDevender; her stepson, Alex Peerman; her beloved grandchildren, Hugo and Cecil Ward; her first husband, Karl VanDevender (Ann Patchett); her nephews, Benjamin (Caroline) and Michael Polansky; her nephew, Will Denkler and nieces, Lydia and Katherine Denkler; and her great-nieces, Lucia and Mae Polansky.
A Memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 9th, 10 a.m., at Benton Chapel, Vanderbilt University, with visitation to follow in the auditorium at University School of Nashville. Burial will take place at Mount Olivet Cemetery at a private family service. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to University School of Nashville, St. Mary's Sewanee, or the Nashville Food Project.
Cremation and Funeral Services of Nashville, (615) 885-0012; Chris Neighbours, Funeral Director.
Cremation and Funeral Services of Nashville
1332 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37208
Published in The Tennessean from Aug. 6 to Aug. 8, 2014