Addie Kathleen 'Kathie' Foster Wilcox died the morning of Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019 at the age of 71. Her two daughters and niece, Angela Foster, were by her side. Kathie was born on Nov. 16, 1947 in Dillon, Montana to parents Dorothy Lucille and Walter Thomas Foster. She attended public schools in Dillon. Following her graduation from Beaverhead County High School in 1966, she attended the University of Montana to major in music, but soon transferred to St. Patrick’s School of Nursing, also in Missoula.
In the fall of 1967, she met Donald J. Wilcox of Hamilton and the two married on March 9, 1968. After Don returned from his service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, the couple moved to Bozeman where Don attended Montana State University. There, Kathie gave birth to their first daughter, Tara Danielle in 1972. The family moved to Billings following Don’s graduation in Civil Engineering. In 1975, they welcomed their second daughter, Shandra Dawn. In 1980, the family moved to Colstrip where Don worked on the town expansion for Montana Power Company. During this time, Kathie worked various part-time jobs while devoting the majority of her time to raising their girls. Having an outgoing social nature, Kathie became involved in the community in several ways. She directed the church choir at the Colstrip non-denominational church, volunteered as Girl Scout Brownie troop leader, participated in several community theater productions, and was director of a Sweet Adeline group, the 'Coalaires'. Kathie and Don divorced in 1988 but remained friends throughout her lifetime.
Kathie went back to college and earned her B.A. at Montana State University-Billings in Organizational Communication in 1990. She then moved with her daughters to Pullman, Washington to attend graduate school at Washington State University. There, she earned a Master of Arts in Speech Communication and completed an Interdisciplinary PhD in 1998. Kathie found her greatest passion in teaching. While completing her PhD, she taught as a teaching assistant at Washington State University and the University of Idaho. She then accepted a position as Professor at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, teaching there for 10 years before moving to Coeur d’Alene to head the Communication Arts department of the college’s campus there. Kathie retired in the spring of 2017 and was granted emeritus status.
Throughout her 20-year academic career at LCSC, Kathie garnered the praise and affection of her students and colleagues. She served twice as Faculty Chair as well as Chair of the Idaho Council of Higher Education Faculty. In 2003, she was awarded the H.L. Talkington Achievement Award for Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Excellence. During her years in Lewiston, she was also an active member of the community, serving on the YWCA Board of Directors and as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. She and some close friends had a blast forming the whimsical and aptly named musical group The Supremely Pointless Sisters. They entertained audiences in and around Lewiston for many years performing rock n’ roll hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991, Kathie underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy. For the next twenty years, she enjoyed a seemingly 'cancer-free' life. However, in 2008, Kathie learned that the breast cancer was still present and had metastasized. In the years since, she valiantly fought the Stage 4 breast cancer which ultimately claimed her life. Kathie never let herself be identified as a cancer victim and throughout all of life’s challenges, she maintained her quick wit, often piercing sense of humor, and amazing flair for storytelling.
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Kathie was an avid reader and an unrelenting crossword solver. She appreciated fine food and wine, rich chocolate, and movie classics. A lover of animals, she always enjoyed the companionship of one or two spoiled felines. Kathie invested her heart and soul into every relationship she formed. Whether her grandchild, friend, neighbor, student, colleague, sister, niece, nephew, or daughter, you felt her love and investment in a profound way. Her absence will be felt deeply by all who knew and loved her.
Kathie is survived by daughters Tara Druffel and Shandra Wilcox and granddaughters Olivia Druffel and Margo Wilcox, sister Gleanne Wray and brother-in-law George Wray, numerous nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. Preceding her in death were her mother, father, brothers Rodney and Stephen, sister-in-law Virginia, niece Theresa, nephew Geno, and her grandson, Grayson Druffel.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Kathie’s life will be held near Coeur d’Alene at Templins by the River, Post Falls, Idaho on June 20, 2020 at 2 p.m.
Memorial contributions can be made online at StJude.org or mailed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. If donating via check, please reference Tribute ID #11757659.