Join us in the nave on Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00 p.m. for this service of worship in which we remember the completed life of Kate L. Paxton. Reception to follow. If you cannot join us in person, click here for the livestream of the memorial service on our YouTube channel.
A gifted teacher, especially with underprivileged children, Kate learned innovative methods. Some of her earliest teaching was during a particularly tumultuous period of the late 1960s on the West Side of Chicago as a member of the Ecumenical Institute’s 5th City Project. After relocating to Houston, she continued teaching English, Social Studies, ESL and eventually arts and media literacy in various schools. In her last few years with the Spring Branch School District, she was able to work independently with grant funding as an artist in residence, teaching eighth grade, often “at-risk” students, to create and produce plays meaningful to their lives. These productions were often transformative for the students. Kate saw the importance of exploring different methods of teaching. She studied and implemented Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple Intelligences through working intensively with David Lazier. This led to her teacher training in this area and other out-of-the-box approaches to reaching and teaching children effectively. She was a pioneer in the field of arts-in-education. Kate was deeply concerned with media literacy and invested several years in Texas in this field.
Kate was also a musician. Her mother had been a concert pianist/teacher/church organist and her father an operatic tenor. Kate sang in the A Capella Choir as an undergraduate at Baylor University in Waco. In Houston, she wrote musical plays for children, sometimes with colleague Diana Weeks, which were produced at various Houston venues. Kate’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, for which she wrote book, music, and lyrics, was presented at the Cullen Theater, Wortham Center in 1996, by Express Theatre to sold out houses. Express Theatre produced many of her musicals including Star Child and Tatyana’s Golden Doe which were presented at Rice University, The Children’s Museum and Miller Outdoor Theatre. Her work has been seen by over 100,000 children in Texas. She was honored by the City of Houston for work in the arts and with children, with the naming of September 25, 1998 as “Kate Paxton Day”. The proclamation signed by then Mayor Lee Brown included that, “Kate Paxton has written magical, inspirational work that has been performed throughout our city, leading students through the process of creating and dramatizing solutions to their problems.” She was on the board of Express Theatre and received multiple grants from the Cultural Arts of Houston/Harris County and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Kate was open-minded and respectful of people and from different cultures and religions. She traveled to Italy and Ethiopia where she deeply connected with people from different walks of life. These experiences contributed to her work, making it richer and broader. In retirement, Kate’s creativity moved in a different direction. She painted watercolor and made many paintings. Also in retirement, Kate boarded international students in her home. She not only provided room and board but an environment in which students coming to learn English flourished. Kate was a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church in the 70s. After several decades away, she reaffirmed her membership in 2016. During her time away, she explored spirituality in many ways, not least through her artmaking and nurturing of students. Kate loved her son Eliot and daughter-in-law Liza. The highlights of her days were when she spent time with Asa and Ruby, her grandchildren.
Kate was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Blanche Paxton, and brother, Joe Dean Paxton, and survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Eliot and Liza Howard, and their children, Asa and Ruby. There will be a memorial service at Christ the King Lutheran Church of Houston on June 29th at 7:00 pm.