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RIP: All Saints’ Jill Gotzian

Jill Gotzian (Steve Thompson)
Jill Gotzian (Steve Thompson)

Jill Gotzian, a beloved teacher at All Saints School in Spokane, died unexpectedly this week. She taught fifth grade, used a wheelchair for many years due to a progressive muscle disorder. She was much beloved by staff, students and alumni. And obviously a gem in her own neighborhood.  She won the newspaper’s Good Neighbor contest in 2002.

In his blog, One Catholic Life, the school’s vice principal, Nick Senger, wrote: 

Every neighborhood has one: the Kool-Aid house. The one place where all the kids hang out, play, and laugh. Schools have them too, Kool-Aid classrooms, where kids congregate before or after school to chat with the teacher; the place to which graduates return. Jill’s classroom was the Kool-Aid house of our school. Day after day, students stopped in to chat, surrounding her desk as she sat in her motorized scooter. Whenever I saw an All Saints graduate return for a visit, I knew exactly where they were heading: last door on the right, 5 North.

But it wasn’t just the classroom. Jill herself was a moving Kool-Aid house, a water cooler on wheels, the place where teachers would gather to laugh, complain, or comment on the latest news. If Jill was in the office, that’s where the teachers would hang out. If Jill motored outside to each lunch in the sunshine, that’s where the teachers ate lunch.

There are people in this world who, by the sheer force of their magnetic personality, draw people continually to them. Jill was such a force, and such a personality.

Where will we gather now that she is gone?

(Spokesman-Review archives photo)

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.