Kathryn (Kay/Kate) Lois Upchurch was born on the coldest day of the year Feb. 11, 1955, to Robert Lee (Bob) Upchurch and Mary Kathryn Dyer Upchurch. She passed away at her sister’s home in Montgomery, Texas, on the afternoon of Dec. 28, 2016, with her family at her bedside. She was 61. Kate had bravely battled glioblastoma brain cancer since April 2016. Every person whose path she crossed during that time was truly inspired by Kate’s courage and optimistic attitude while facing this horrendous challenge in her life. Throughout it all, she kept her sense of humor and was quick to make a joke, a trait that not only astounded her doctors, nurses, fellow patients, friends and family, but also endeared her to everyone. People often exclaimed, “What an inspiration she is!”
Kay grew up in Bedias, Texas, and from the age of 6, she attended school in Madisonville, graduating from Madisonville High School in 1973. She then went to Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas, where she graduated in 1977 with a bachelor of arts degree in radio, television and film. When Kay arrived at TCU, she began using her given name, Kathryn. When she introduced herself to a fellow student, that new friend said, “Kathryn is too formal ... Can I call you Kate?” The nickname stuck, and from that point on, we all began calling her Kate. She pledged Pi Beta Phi sorority as a freshman, and has enjoyed many close friendships throughout the years with her sorority sisters. She appreciated the outpouring of cards and flowers they sent during her illness, as well as their numerous phone calls.
Being of adventurous spirit, Kate worked in various locations including Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Richardson and Barcelona, Spain. In recent years, she enjoyed her profession as a “landman” for an oil company. She was also a business partner and music distributor for Sounds Forever and Music by Marcey. Kate was a motivational speaker and an author on that topic. In 2013, the chapter she contributed to the book “Against the Grain” by Brian Tracy was so outstanding that it was selected for recognition by the National Academy of Best Selling Authors, and she was given the Academy’s highest honor, the Quill Award. For an author, this accomplishment is equivalent to receiving Oscar, Emmy or Grammy recognition in those artistic genres. The Academy’s award ceremony was held at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Calif. Needless to say, Kate was excited as she walked the red carpet, and she enjoyed being honored by her peers at such a special event. She was a member of a number of professional organizations and served on the board of directors of First State Bank of Bedias for many years until her death.
Kate was kind and generous, possessed a keen sense of humor and had a tremendous love for animals. She was also a wonderful cook and often prepared old family recipes. She was predeceased by her husband Jim Wood; father Robert E. Lee Upchurch II; maternal grandparents Louise Pierce Dyer and Lois Pleasant Dyer (for whom she was named); and paternal grandparents Fannie Davis Upchurch and Robert E. Lee Upchurch.
She is survived by her mother, Mary Kathryn Dyer Upchurch; sister Candi Upchurch Barousse and husband John; brother Robert E. Lee Upchurch III and wife Denise; adored niece Divin Upchurch Hiscox and husband Parker; adored nephew Robert E. Lee Upchurch IV; longtime friend Marcey Hamm; and longtime friend Robin Birdsong (the college friend who nicknamed “Kate” back in 1973). She also had a close relationship with her cousins, especially Camilla Viator, Elizabeth Baker, Trey Wharton and Joe Fultz. Our sweet Kate now has her angel wings.
Visitation was held on the evening of Dec. 30, 2016, at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Bedias, and a private family service to honor her life was held at Southern Heritage the next morning, Dec. 31, with Dr. Arnold Foster officiating. Following the service was a dedication of the grave at Bedias Methodist Cemetery. Serving as pallbearers were John Barousse, Robert E. Lee Upchurch IV, Parker Hiscox, James Lee Garrett, Brent Viator and Trey Wharton.
The family wishes to thank Dr. C.H. Prihoda of Navasota Medical Center; Dr. Terry Jenkins, Dr. Scott Goble and their staff at CHI St. Joseph Cancer Center in Bryan; and Texas Home Health and Hospice of College Station for their excellent care, compassion and support given to Kate during this difficult journey.
If anyone desires to make a contribution in her name, Kate requested consideration of Bedias Cemetery Association, Perpetual Care Fund, P.O. Box 579, Bedias, Texas 77831 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tenn. 38105, and for memorials made online: http://giftfunds.stjude.org/KathrynUpchurch. One hundred percent of donations received in her name will go directly to cancer research, just as she wanted.
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8