NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Her family said she gave her life to protect her students; students she loved dearly.
Dr. Katherine Koonce was laid to rest Wednesday at Christ Presbyterian Church, nine days after the mass shooting at The Covenant School.
News 2 spoke to Dr. Koonce’s close friends on Wednesday before her Celebration of Life.
“She was on a Zoom call and heard the gunshots and went straight towards them,” said Barrett Severance, a former student of Dr. Koonce.
Dr. Koonce spent her last moments trying to stop the shooter and save the children.
“The way she was was that it was clear that she was facing and confronting the shooter in that last moment,” said Anna Caudill, a former colleague and friend of Dr. Koonce for 23 years.
“Her last moment was spent protecting those children, and that is not surprising to those that know her. It is heartbreaking, but that’s certainly the person that we knew,” Severance added.
A hero, a love that knows no fear, is how her friends will always remember her by.
“How can we honor her? And one of my classmates said it flawlessly, and that is now our obligation to be somebody’s Katherine, to believe in them so much that they have no other option but to believe in themselves and to see them through their own goals,” Severance said.
When asking Caudill how Dr. Koonce’s loss has impacted her, she responded by saying, “I think I’m going to be looking for an answer to that question for the rest of my life, because I think I’m going to find new ways in which that impacts me every day.”
The impact and power of Dr. Koonce’s legacy will be passed on for generations to come.
“What she has meant to other people, me, and my classmates, it’ll be extremely difficult to know that a person with so much left to give and lived in such a vibrant way is now taken from us,” Severance said.
Severance also added Dr. Koonce’s impact on everyone she met was so special.
“We’re losing the type of person that you would name your child after, as my former classmate has.”
“I love her. I’m so proud of her. And it helps me not to be afraid, and it helps me hold on to her family’s request that as we pray, we pray for the seven families who lost loved ones that day,” Caudill added.
She also said Dr. Koonce spent years helping a family who tragically lost their child, adding that she made everyone feel like the most special person in the world.
“During those dark days, she always felt like Katherine was, like they were the only people Katherine was taking care of, and that she was pouring all of their energy into them. When she got to the visitation last night and heard people talking in front of her and talking about her, she realized that everybody in the room felt that way about Katherine,” Caudill said.