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Naperville Central art teacher remembered as ‘most influential’

Theresa Funke.

Theresa Funke.

Theresa Funke said she was going to climb Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. And when her husband couldn’t climb any higher, she went ahead and got to the top herself.

That’s one of Stephen DeCoursey’s fondest memories of his wife, who died of cancer Friday at age 59. The Batavia resident has been a teacher at Naperville Central High School since 1999 and was best known for her AP Studio Art and Jewelry classes.

“There were a lot of students she impacted very positively,” DeCoursey said Monday. “She loved conversation with people, she loved to laugh. I don’t think there was anything that didn’t interest her in some way.”

He said Funke loved traveling, the arts and teaching. The two met at Notre Dame as college freshman while taking a religion class. They married in 1976, divorced in 1994 and remarried in 2004. She is also survived by her two sons, Kellen Daniel and Devin Patrick DeCoursey.

“She was recognized by a lot of students that she had taught that she allowed them to step outside of what they normally learned and what they tried to do,” he said. “The things that the students created were their own ideas, but were fostered by the tools and techniques she taught them.”

According to Naperville District 203 officials, Funke was recognized by administrators as an outstanding educator, and had been chosen by students as most influential educator.

“She really had a concern for her friends and family, she had a deep faith in God and her religion,” DeCoursey said. “She used that to support her and set an example for other people to follow.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m., Wednesday at the Moss Family Funeral Home in Batavia. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Peter Catholic Church in Geneva. The burial will be private.

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