Louisville, KY – The Reverend Teresa Emery

June 1954 – January 2020

Bachelor’s of Arts, University of Indianapolis * Master’s of Educational Administration, Ball State University * Specialist in Education, Central Michigan University * Master’s of Divinity, Louisville Presbyterian Seminary

Born on a Marine base in North Carolina, raised on a farm in Indiana, lived and worked through the years in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky — Teresa Gail Emery (Alexander) died this week in her Louisville, KY home after a three year battle with cancer. Fittingly for her adopted home state, there was a glass of sweet tea and a bottle of bourbon on the bedside table when she passed.

Terry is survived by her husband (Larry Emery), her father (Denver Alexander), her brothers (Todd and Mike Alexander), her 4 children (Sarah, Beth, Aaron, and Hannah), her seven grandchildren (Edward, Alice, Charlie, Adaline, Katie, Claire, and Madeline) and approximately 4,850 students she taught in her classrooms over the years.

As a misfit match of college sweethearts, Terry and Larry were voted “Most Likely to Divorce” among their friends at University of Indianapolis (Indiana Central College), but proved everyone wrong over their 45 years of marriage. A team of complimentary skill sets, Terry and Larry were very different apart, but undoubtably stronger together. And together they raised three girls and one boy to believe they could make a lasting impact on the world around them without having to be the center of the universe.

In the final years of her life Terry was an ordained minister in the Alliance of Baptists Church and served as chaplain at Treyton Oak Towers in Louisville. Previously, she was a school principal at institutions in Coldwater and Pellston, Michigan, as well as an assistant principal in Fountain City, Indiana. Throughout her working life, Terry served as a high school English and French teacher at Cambridge City, Randolph Southern, Centerville, National Trail, and Northeastern Wayne community schools.

Terry loved education — as a student, teacher, principal, pastor and parent. She loved the IDEA that the names and numbers inside books and stories could make us bigger, better, more fully-realized people. She treasured the process of unlocking the inherent potential inside students — sometimes seeing the greatness within them before they could see it in themselves. She was a believer that great students can be found in unexpected places, and that loving kids where they are at is 80% of the job of a teacher and principal. She was at her best wrestling with new ideas and helping others navigate the uncharted waters of literature, language, leadership, and liturgy.

A celebration-of-life service will be held at Jeff Street Baptist Church in Louisville, KY on Saturday, January 25th at 3PM. Family, friends, and former students are invited to gather at this time to share stories and honor the legacy of a woman who committed her life to expanding horizons and loving people exactly as they are. Flowers are great — but if your heart moves you to give, donations to the Jeff Street Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) Homeless Breakfast Program would be a more fitting and long-lasting tribute to Terry and the work she committed her life to.

Jeff Street Baptist Church: 800 East Liberty Street, Louisville KY 40204