John Insley Traverse, 64, of Arlington, Tenn., died peacefully at his home on December 28, 2020, with his beloved wife, Kathy, daughter Anna, and dogs by his side. A transformative teacher with over thirty years’ experience, John began his career at Kirby High School before moving to Houston High School, where he taught AP Literature, AP Language, AP Capstone Seminar, and AP Government.
John was born April 19, 1956, in Houston, Tex., to Drs. Alfred Traverse and Elizabeth Insley Traverse. He was raised in Houston, then Austin, and then State College, Penn., where the family moved when John’s father took a job at Penn State University. John stayed to attend college at Penn State, graduating with a B.A. in English in 1977. He went on to pursue graduate studies in English at the University of Virginia, where he met Dr. Cynthia Marshall, Anna’s mother, who predeceased him in 2005.
John lived in the Memphis, Tenn., area beginning in 1985. He transformed the Midtown bungalow where he and his family lived into a beautiful home, almost singlehandedly, even re-roofing the house himself. John could fix anything and solve any puzzle; he was as skilled with his broad, strong hands as with his inventive, original mind. After a brief foray into the business world, he pivoted to teaching, where he found his true calling and passion. A brilliant and hardworking man, John could have done just about anything, but chose to stay in the classroom, believing that there, he could have the greatest possible positive effect.
John met Kathy in 2007. The two were immediately inseparable, and married in 2008. A few years later they moved to their dream home, in Arlington, where they loved watching birds and deer, and hosting their children and grandchildren at their backyard pool. John created a beautiful world for those he loved.
John was dedicated, honest, kind, and giving. He demonstrated his love through action.
After being diagnosed with a sarcoma in July, John fought bravely, but the cancer moved swiftly and aggressively. He entered home hospice care in early November and spent his final weeks in the company of Kathy, Anna, Kathy’s daughter Katie and her husband Jake, as well as his and Kathy’s beloved grandchildren, Andrew and Emma, Jake and Katie’s children. In spite of everything, John remained valiant, and was thoroughly himself to the end.
John is survived by his wife, Kathy, daughter Anna Traverse Fogle (Cameron Fogle), stepson Phil Janowicz (Angie), stepdaughter Katie Graves (Jake), and grandchildren Andrew and Emma Graves. He is also survived by his three siblings, Paul Traverse (Michele), Martha Traverse, and Celia Traverse (Tom), as well as nieces and nephews Ben, Nick, Hannah, Jason, Guy, and Julia.