Madison - Kathleen “Kathy” Wood, age 81, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Sunday, November 12, 2023.
She was born in Kirkwood, MO on July 10, 1942, to James Parkes “Pat” and Rosemary (nee Duenwald) Downing.
Kathy spent some of her younger years in Flint, MI, but was mostly raised in Watertown, WI, graduating from Watertown High School (class of 1960). She attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W), where she was a member of the Ski Club, Future Teachers, Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and obtained a BS & BE, with minors in Education and English, and a major in Mathematics. There she met Norman “Norm” J. Wood, and they married in July 1965.
Norm’s career took them to Peoria, IL, where Kathy taught Algebra and Geometry at Richwoods High School and oversaw the chess and bridge clubs, was very active in the audio-visual department, and aided the theatrical department in their presentations. Kathy combined these passions as she stepped in front of the camera as the host of WIRL-TV’s “Romper Room” in Peoria, IL; it is here she earned the name “Miss Kathy”, a name that followed her for many years.
In 1969, the Woods moved back to Wisconsin, first to Belleville, and then to Madison. In the early 1970s, Kathy did several national commercials and worked with UW-Madison on two series where she was the on-air talent: You & Your Healthy Family and a 10-part series on the Metric System. This led to her position as host of the “Mid-day” program at the local CBS affiliate (WISC-TV) for 14 years, and to hosting the annual Easter Seals Telethon, which raised millions for disabled youngsters.
Kathy’s next foray was as a tax preparer for 10 years, and to opening her own business, A-1 Tax Xpress. When Norm passed away in 2013, she sold the business, yet continued to work for new the owner for several more tax seasons.
She served as President of the PTA in 2 schools, President of Metropolitan Women’s Club, and was on the boards of the Humane Society, the Commission on the Environment, the Rivers & Lake Commission, the Recombinant DNA Commission, and the Parental Stress Center. In 1991, Kathy was recognized as an Outstanding Alumni by UW-W and later served on the Dean's Advisory Board for the College of Letters & Science at UW-W. In the name of their children and grandchildren, the Norman and Kathleen Wood International Education Scholarship was established at UW-W in 2006.
The kids kept Kathy and Norm busy, running to and from soccer & football games, swim & dive meets, band concerts, scouts, and urgent care. But Kathy relished her time when the whole family was together, whether that be for family vacations out West, Florida, or to “The Other Place” (a family cabin in Phillips, WI); but she was always aglow for the Holidays, showering her family with food, fun, and gifts.
Her hobbies have included bowling, golfing, gambling, and reading. She played competitive duplicate bridge, won regional tournaments, and was recognized at the national level. She taught bridge for many years and traveled extensively in pursuit of her Gold Life Master status.
Kathy & Norm also loved to travel together; extensively in the USA and Canada, and abroad to Mexico, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Scotland and Switzerland, and several cruises (Alaska being a favorite). Whether by plane, train, ship, motorcycle, or convertible, one thing was sure, it usually included a casino tour.
The front door to the Wood house was always open and was frequented by the many “adopted” members of the Wood clan, including their foster son Kurt Jurewicz.
Kathy is survived by her children; Amy (Mike) McCormick, Kevin (Leah) Wood, David (Tonya) Wood, Derek (Dawn) Wood, Kurt (Adrienne) Jurewicz, and 11 grandchildren; [Megan (Tim Herman), Devin, Shannon, and Declan McCormick], [Lauren and Addison Wood, Anna and Lauren Elsen], [Kyle, Lindsey, and Brandon Wood]. She is also survived by her sister Barbara Fraser (Mike Casey), brother Patrick Downing, and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Kathy was preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, Norm; granddaughter, Ashley; and parents James Parkes “Pat” and Rosemary Downing.
A visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 PM, Monday, November 20, 2023, at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road in Madison and will continue at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Parish, 602 Everglade Dr., Madison, until the time of the Funeral Mass at 11:00 AM at the church; Fr. Jay Poster will preside. Kathy’s ashes will be placed, once again next to Norm, at Resurrection Cemetery, Madison. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Easter Seals (Wisconsin), the Dane County Humane Society, or Make-A-Wish.
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