Kathryn Lee (Thornton) Withenbury, 66, passed away peacefully in her home on January 25, 2019, taken too quickly by cancer.
Her parents Lionel and Marilyn Thornton, sister Kimberly Grace Thornton, and son-in-law Chek Wu embraced her on the other side.
Her memory and legacy live on through her husband Thomas M. Withenbury of Camden, South Carolina; her children Melissa Quartell (Steven) of Herndon, Virginia, Jennifer Gardner of New York, New York, Emily A. Withenbury (Fitzpatrick) of Northampton, Massachusetts, and Alexander T. Withenbury (Caitlin) of El Paso, Texas; her granddaughter Gwenyth Coulter; and her siblings Chuck Thornton (Robin), Karen Boroski (Robert), and Chris Thornton of Connecticut.
Kathryn was a dedicated educator, passionate arts supporter, and a strong, determined woman who passed on those qualities to her children. She devoted countless hours and energy to her children’s pursuits: as a Girl Scout Leader, music and sports booster, and co-founder of Concert Ballet Ensemble in Monmouth, Illinois. She was intensely proud to be a West Point mom.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, graduating magna cum laude from Western Illinois University, where she was awarded top university and departmental honors. She taught children with learning and behavioral disorders in Knox and Henderson counties in Illinois, and later joined the faculty at Western Illinois University as a field supervisor for student teachers.
She married the love of her life, Thomas M. Withenbury, on June 5, 1998. They moved to Camden in 2009 where they built their dream home, and she continued her teaching career as principal of the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy until her retirement in 2016. In retirement, she dedicated time to cooking, worked in her herb garden, rekindled her life-long love of sewing, and found inspiration in researching and writing historical fiction.
Cremation rites are accorded by Kornegay Funeral Home, Camden. Kathryn did not wish to have a memorial service and preferred that those whose lives she touched remember her with stories and laughter. In lieu of flowers, a gift can be made in Kathryn’s name to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.