Saying Goodbye to Kathy Harris

4.16.2020

A leader, a mentor, a colleague, a teacher, a friend...


It is with great sadness to inform our community that Katherine “Kathy” Harris passed away on Sunday April 12, 2020. Kathy has been a strong foundational anchor of the American Physical Therapy Association both at the national and state level. She has served as the Connecticut Chapter President, Vice President, and Chief Delegate. At the national level Kathy served on the Ethics and Judicial committee.

 
Kathy was an amazing educator, helping to form the rehabilitative minds of many Quinnipiac students, Shenandoah University and previously at University of Hartford. She was the colleague to many at Yale New Haven Hospital before moving into her full time role as an educator. During this pandemic, Kathy continued to mentor, coach and provide words of wisdom and guidance to all of us at APTA CT.
 
To Kathy, thank you for all that you have done. You have touched the lives of many, many people, from students, to patients, to colleagues; to friends that became family. Every one of us can pause and be thankful for having you be a part of our lives in whatever form that was. Thank you, and keep an eye on us all.
 
 
Stefanie Bourassa DPT, MSPT, CSCS
Because of your nomination and your belief in me, President, APTA CT
“Kathy Impact Moments”

 

I first met Cathy when she was a clinician and she helped out with the wound content. She was a wonderful clinician, teacher, and mentor.  Janet Gangaway

Kathy, Your knowledge, confidence, and unflappable spirit were always so reassuring when working under your leadership. I am so grateful to have been able to grow and work with you. Your spirit will surely live on through all of those that your have mentored and inspired. The APTA CT delegation will forge on doing the work that you loved in your honor. Rest in peace.  Cristina Colon-Semenza
 
Kathy was a huge help and friend when I first arrived at the University of Hartford, we then went on to work on the CT Chapter Board and then on to friends who met regularly at an Italian restaurant. I am so saddened to hear of her passing. She was truly a leader and an  leaders. She will be missed. Catherine Certo
 

I met Kathy when she became a faculty member at Quinnipiac. I will remember her for her dedication to the profession, her leadership at the national and state levels, her intellect, humor, generosity and beautiful smile. Diana Veneri

Knowing there is no longer a Kathy Harris in this world is weird. I don't and never truly have had the words to describe Kathy Harris. Going into that first DPT meeting in the spring of senior year, I honestly had no idea who Kathy Harris was, but leaving that meeting, I sure did. She was fierce, candid, passionate, and sincere. She knew the level of knowledge, understanding, and skills we all were about to face and never shied away from giving us the reality. As scary as my first interaction with her was, I finally realize that it was the words that were scary, not her. Every interaction after proved that. Her expectations were high, her intentions were pure, her class and anecdotes were informative, and her personality was intriguing. As a department head and professor, she never shied away from giving students the utmost truth about it all, whether that be about her personal life or her goals for us. She expected nothing below her expectations and never let any of us forget that. She was strong-willed and determined. She was honest and sincere with herself, with her students, and with her fellow colleagues. She was never afraid to speak the truth and have the uncomfortable conversation, even if it meant divulging hard truths and unknown answers. She was always interested in the lives of others, whether that was by having the 1 on 1 meetings with her or creating a student board to communicate students needs/wants to her. Although I'm no longer at Quinnipiac, my one semester in the DPT program was truly shaped and impacted greatly by Kathy Harris. I choose to continue on her legacy by taking the time and initiative to get to know everyone, believing in myself and others despite the odds, always being 100% transparent and sincere even without the answers of path ahead known, fighting the hard fight with true intentions and grace shown, and becoming the best Physical Therapist we both know I can be.

Thank you Kathy Harris for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. Thank you for instilling in me the true concept of what it means to be a Physical Therapist. Thank you for opening my eyes to all aspects of physical therapy. Thank you for your anecdotes and interactions, which I always left with great advice, a reminder of my 'why', and continued hope. Thank you for introducing me to the idea of working as a Physical Therapist with the armed forces community, which I now dream of doing one day. Thank you for giving the real, hard truth and nothing but that. Thank you for always showing your passion for helping others, including your fellow colleagues, your students, and most importantly, your patients. RIP to one of the most influential women in the lives of many.  Mairead O'Sullivan, Quinnipiac University '19

I am as sure as our profession facilitates healing in multitudes, that we each have  "Kathy Impact Moments". Kathy's reputation as an outstanding PT and Educator preceded my experience as being a peer in PTA Education. I admired her from a distance before she came onboard as a PTA Faculty educator in the Naugatuck Valley Community College PTA Program. I had the honor and privilege to work with her when she taught on our campus and through our APTA CT Association. She ignited the PTA fire as an educator in our Physical Agents course. She had the gift of bringing the PT World into the classroom. She is/was a genuine mentor, leader, therapist, and friend. A lost to the APTA CT and PT World as a whole. Her amazing spirit will live on and continue to inspire us all to be better clinicians and educators. 
Katherine (Kathy) Harris.... Thank You for touching our lives in so many ways. Your Light will continue to Shine! 
Deepest condolences to Family and Friends... With gratitude for your precious presence.    Jeri L. Opuszynski, PTA
 
I became so much more sad on Tuesday  when Steve Tepper told me about Katherine. I had to cancel my CSM trip this year so I didn't have a chance to see Kathy at the meeting. So, the news caught me completely off guard.
I first met Kathy at a Guide Workshop many years ago, in Philadelphia, and we have been friends ever since. Now, I wouldn't say best friend but friends enough to have a drink at meetings and just chat. We talked APTA, politics, and just life. She always had a way to make me smile. I remember the Christmas cards she sent me. They always had Kathy and her daughter on the front. Amazingly, she even made me smile long distance. My colleagues would actually come into my office, see the Christmas card, and jokingly  tell me that I couldn't possibly know two people
that attractive.
I will miss Katherine. Quinnipiac will miss Katherine. APTA will miss Katherine. Most of all, her family will miss this women who made so many  differences in so many lives.
I am so glad our species comes with memory...Joe Lucca, DPT, PhD, GCS


I met Kathy Biggs-Harris, in 1999, when she and I were working on the Guide Part 3 – CD-ROM Version – searching out the evidence for the test and measures that we utilize in physical therapy.  I was doing it for the cardiovascular area and she was for integumentary content.   Right away I took a shinning to her, her wonderful personality, her laughter, her smile and her big heart.  Over the next few years, I started to bring her out to Shenandoah University, to work with our students in wound therapy.  She was a fantastic teacher and the students loved her. When I started the online tDPT program with Rehab Essentials, she was my pick for teaching the online course “Management for Persons with Integumentary Disorders.”  Over the years we realized we both had a passion for good champagne.  Every conference I would always sit with her and have a bottle and catch up on life. She was just such a wonderful person to have a heart to heart with. At this last CSM, sitting in my room, we had our last heart to heart.  We laughed, we teared, we spoke honestly with one another. I shot this selfie of us. When I sent it to her, she wrote back “this picture puts a smile on my face.”  That is the way I will always remember Kathy, with a loving smile on her face. Love, Steve Tepper, PT, PhD, FAPTA

 


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