Carey Ann McCormick was preparing for one more year of teaching before retirement when she was rushed to the hospital.
As an art teacher with USD 259, she was making plans with longtime friend and co-worker Susan Schmitt when she started having trouble breathing.
Schmitt made her seek medical attention but it was too late. Blood clots had developed within her lungs and she died.
"It is just so sad that she died so young," Schmitt said. "She was so vivacious, had this wry sense of humor and was very smart. She had this insatiable need to learn stuff. Oh my goodness, she needed to know about everything and had this urge to learn everything about art that she could."
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Ms. McCormick died July 29. At her request, there will be no service.
She was 58.
She was born Aug. 18, 1951, in Tulsa, Okla. Her father died when she was 3 years old. Her mother, Lavon, moved the family to Minneapolis, Kan., to be with her parents.
The family later moved to Lawrence.
Carey Ann McCormick was born curious.
"She was always destroying things to see how they worked," said her sister, Donna McCormick of Lawrence. "She destabilized anything electrical or magnetic. She had this unbelievable energy. It always felt like a tornado had gone through the place."
She was a 1969 graduate of Lawrence High School and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1974 and a bachelor's degree in education in 1984. She received a master's degree in art education in 1995 from Wichita State University.
"In debate, she could chew rings around you verbally," Donna McCormick said. "She was passionate about whatever she was into — the ERA, NOW, or whatever the cause was at the time. She was extremely liberal when she was young and more conservative in later years. But the passion was always there."
She did her master's thesis on the artwork of cowgirls and did a summer retreat with artist and philosopher Paolo Soleri, the architect behind Arizona's Arcosanti village.
"They built green-type homes using mudbricks," Schmitt said.
Ms. McCormick taught a year in the Troy elementary school before moving to Wichita where she began teaching in the USD 259 art department. She taught at Stanley, Franklin, Jackson and Kensler elementary schools and at Truesdell and Mead middle schools.
Through the years, Ms. McCormick had been involved in the Kansas Art Education Association and Prairie Quilt Guild and participated in creating art in public places, such as the color murals at Truesdell Middle School, Schmitt said.
Part of her legacy is 15 boxes of art research that Ms. McCormick left behind for her students.
"She didn't just do lesson plans, she did in-depth research," Schmitt said. "I'm going through these boxes and she has everything — from research on African-American art, the Inuits (Native Alaskans) and heaven only knows what else. She researched the Pennsylvania Dutch symbols on barns and she did all these lessons with kids that are wonderful."
Ms. McCormick is survived by her mother, Lavon Martin of Chappell Hill, Texas, and her sister, Donna McCormick of Lawrence.