Kathy Close was laid to rest today.




It was a somber day at Red Bank Elementary. As teachers and students began the week without one of their own.

"Her team will miss her," said Principal Stephanie Hinton, "we will miss her, the kids will miss her."

Fourth Grade Teacher Kathy Close died Friday afternoon of natural causes. She had a history of diabetes.

Close, who was in her 35th year at Red Bank, was a favorite among students and staff.

"She was just that exceptional teacher," said Hinton, "everybody would want a Kathy Close on their staff."

Hinton says Close had a passion for teaching and was a leader among her peers.

Her colleagues say it was her wit and humor that made her so lovable, but it was her dedication that Hinton says helped her connect with students that otherwise seemed unreachable.

Just last year, Close volunteered to teach a class full of boys. It was a challenge others might see as impossible.

"They respected her, they respected the things in her classroom, they respected school, they respected her," said Hinton, "these are guys prior to going to her class that would be sitting in my office, but she made that connection."

Close was named Teacher of the Year in 2007, and for good reason. Teaching was in her blood.

When school wasn't in session, Close taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She touched countless lives with her faith.

"Just a wonderful smile that she always seemed to have," said Sally Ensley, "there was a joy about her, she was a very special person."

As a community grieves the loss of a highly respected educator, today those who knew Kathy Close best cling to the lessons she leaves behind.

"She's a staple in this Red Bank community," said Hinton, "she will be missed."


RED BANK, TN (WRCB) -- A Hamilton County elementary school teacher collapsed in her classroom and died Friday.

Channel 3 Eyewitness News has confirmed Kathy Close, a fourth grade teacher at Red Bank Elementary, fell ill Friday afternoon. Paramedics rushed her to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Her students were counseled and letters went home to their parents. School officials say counselors will be available on Monday. An announcement to the full student body was not made on Friday.

A Channel 3 Eyewitness News crew on the scene observed an ambulance leaving. Our crew also saw Superintendent Dr. Jim Scales arriving.

Close taught at Birchwood Elementary before moving to Red Bank Elementary for the past 35 years. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2007 for the Hamilton County School System.

Close leaves behind a husband of 32 years, Paul Mathes Close and two adult daughters.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday at the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home.

Services for Kathy Close will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the North Chapel.

Burial will follow in Chattanooga Memorial Park, "Duck Pond Cemetery".