Katie McCartan

Honored by:Don Haugo
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(1950 - 1991) "Heroine" - a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities - aptly describes Kathleen Wright McCartan, whose career at Iowa State University ended prematurely with her death in 1991, at age 40. In the words of her colleagues, her students, family and friends: her life was an inspiration and example on both personal and professional levels.

A feminist in the fullest sense--one who views each person as worthy and valued--she fought in her kindly way against all oppression. The direction she provided in her family as the oldest of seven and in her role as educator testified to feminine worth and independence. She was a voracious reader and knew the feminist canon as well as the classics. Her political stands were always based on the key questions: "What does this policy do for people?" "What does it do to people?" She worked for candidates whose pro-people positions she could support. With her eye focused unswervingly on the welfare of children especially children with challenging needs she worked for a better future for all children.

She served as a model through her ability to balance the many roles a woman can assume. She maintained a loving committed relationship with her husband and actively nurtured and supported her two sons while excelling in her career as an educator. As Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at ISU her distinguished contributions to Early Childhood Education and Personnel Preparation led to national recognition and several awards. She was named "Educator of the Year" by the Iowa ARC and "Outstanding Young Teacher " by ISU.

The Iowa Division for Early Childhood honored her with its Outstanding Service Award. From the National University Continuing Education Association she received the Certificate of Excellence for an outreach program. The Council for Exceptional Children conferred on her the Outstanding Service Award for Iowa. Her last recognition the Amco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teacher at ISU came in 1989, while she was struggling with the effects of chemotherapy. Because of her devotion to students and teaching the honor she most valued was the naming of the Kathleen Wright McCartan Undergraduate Award by the Council for Exceptional Children an annual designation with a stipend provided by a fund set up by her loving husband parents family and friends. This fund also awards annual scholarships to students at ISU.

In her department, Dr. McCartan was known for her reasoned judgment, her ability to develop and sustain productive relationships and her focus on solutions. Her compassion extended to each and every person and she was quick to understand and empathize with others' points of view. Throughout her field particularly in Iowa she was renowned as an expert collaborator working with agencies organizations and other educational units to enhance the support and expertise for children with special needs.

She served in leadership roles and elected offices at the state and national levels was a popular presenter and consultant and an innovative contributor to dialogue on issues in her field. Her success inobtaining grant support allowed for program development and projects which strengthened her department and her field. Such was Dr. McCartan's commitment to students that she marshalled her waning energies to conduct her classes and actively assist her students giving their needs priority over her own to her final days. Community service was for Dr. McCartan a lifelong commitment. She was an ever-willing volunteer from her Candy Stripe days through civic church and professional service. She was a consultant or member of seven Iowa State Councils and Task Forces and an effective contributor to ISU groups.

Dr. McCartan's love of life was all embracing -- music, art, nature, theater, dance all delighted her. After every trip she reported with great enthusiasm on museums gardens concerts and friendships. In her family she led the pack to a love of travel a passion for education and personal growth a compassionate and loving support of all and a determination to miss out on nothing. Her favorite spot on earth was Mt. Rainier where she spent three summers as a waitress. She introduced her family to Cougar Rock Ohanapakosh Paradise Lodge the ice caves and Reflection Lake.

Dr. McCartan lived and died a heroine to all who knew her. She focused on the best in others and called forth the best in herself Very slow to criticize she accepted others as they were and rejoiced in their good fortune. She was joyful affirmative and supportive. Her delight in mothering her two little boys knew no bounds and she imparted to them her own sense of joy. In working with students she became a role model friend and ally. Like other heroines, she leaves a legacy of accomplishment and hope for other women to emulate.