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Dr. Amy Pace, who never stopped teaching, dies

Amy F. Pace, a beloved Henderson County teacher who continued to push education until the end of her life, died Saturday after an extended illness.

“I loved her. She was one of the wonderful people there ever was,” said Tom Orr, a close friend and fellow teacher. “She was a creative individual that combined creativity with the ability to organize and skillfully execute projects and plans. She had a humility and grace that I thought was rare to find in people and ability and strength that made her the top of anything she tried to do.”
Along with Orr, she was among the founding members of both the Education Hall of Fame and the Walk of Fame Committee.
“She and I worked together and we complemented each other,” Orr said. “I can’t say enough about her.”
Born in 1934 in Henderson County, Amy Fisher Pace attended Hendersonville High School, where she took Latin, French and Spanish, served as editor of The Red and White, the school newspaper, and was valedictorian of her graduating class. Always a bright and eager student, she was the first on either side of her family to attend college. She earned a bachelor’s degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from UNC at Chapel Hill in 1955, a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1963 and a doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee in 1974.
Henderson County schools Superintendent J.M. Foster and principal E.L. Justus recruited her to teach English at Flat Rock High School in 1955. In a surprise visit to her home, they found her “barefoot and wearing grubby old shorts,” she said in a profile by the Education Foundation when she was inducted into the first class of the Education Hall of Fame. “I was very embarrassed but they reacted fine.”
She declined the offer then because she already had a teaching job in Wake County. Twelve years later, she came home and took a job under Justus at East Henderson High School, where she taught until 1972.
She and her husband, Dan, funded graduate work by taking turns teaching and studying, the Carolina Village newsletter, the Villager, said in a profile of her two years ago. She also studied at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania and received a number of fellowships, including a Fulbright to study and travel in Beijing.
She taught high school English in North Carolina, Virginia and California, and college courses here and in Georgia. In 1979, when Amy and Dan returned home to help with aging parents, schools Superintendent Glenn Marlow created a curriculum position for her and again she excelled. She worked in the central office job for 18 years, until her retirement in 1997, earning recognition as the Western North Carolina Administrator of the Year from the N.C. Association of Educational Office Personnel. She wrote articles published in regional and national publications on curriculum design or English.
If she retired from her profession, she never retired from teaching. At Carolina Village, she chaired the Education Committee for seven years and wrote a monthly article about educational opportunities. “She regularly urges residents to ‘stay alive as long as you live’ by suggesting topics for the development of new programs,” the Villager said. She served on member of the Carolina Village Board before she and her husband moved to the retirement community in 2000 and later served as president of the Residents Council.
“The philosophy she executed out at Carolina Village was you live until you die,” Orr said. “Live fully and she did that. She was always traveling and reading and challenging herself intellectually and spiritually.”
An active member of St. James Episcopal Church, she served as a Senior Warden and lay reader.
“Erect and always impeccably attired, Amy maintains a challenging pace,” the Carolina Villager reported. “Few can match her service to the community, but perhaps her example will inspire others.”