‘I Could Not Stop Smiling’: Emily Thompson Receives 2nd Annual ‘Kelly Devine Scholarship Award’

Kelly Devine taught English at New Canaan High School and—by all accounts—was a friend to most everyone she met. As a Norwalk teen, she excelled as an athlete as well as a scholar, and nurtured a passion for books and reading. On April 7, 2016, she passed away suddenly, sending reverberations through the public schools and wider New Canaan community. Since then, those who knew Kelly Devine have established a series of remembrances, in the form of a memorial bench out front of the school, a dual New Canaan-Norwalk swim meet, an award for a NCHS senior and a mural with pictures and letters. There’s also a Kelly Devine Scholarship Fund, created by her parents Jay and Cathy, that benefits a college-bound Norwalk High School senior each year.

‘Her Soul Sat Up’: NCHS Community Gathers To Dedicate Bench Honoring Kelly Devine

Evan Remley, chair of the English Department at New Canaan High School, used to see fellow teacher Kelly Devine every day during passing time, standing outside her classroom and greeting students with a smile. It became part of his routine to encounter the beloved NCHS figure this way, and eventually, Remley recalled, he came to rely on “her steady, optimistic and kind soul to cheer me up.”

“One day I asked her, ‘How can you possibly be so cordial and peppy every morning?’ ” Remley recalled Thursday with a smile, addressing 100 of Devine’s family members, friends, colleagues and former students gathered in front of the high school on a brisk, sunny afternoon. “She smiled and laughed in her infectious way and explained that it had just become a habit. It was second nature to her, being kind and open. Kelly always knew what is so easy for the rest of us to forget: Appreciate the people in your life.

‘A Leader Both in the Pool and on the Deck’: New Canaan and Norwalk High Schools Hold Inaugural ‘Kelly Devine Dual’ Swim Meet

Something jumped out at Doug Marchetti, athletic director at Norwalk High School, when he reviewed the FCIAC fall schedule on its release this summer. A matchup in girls swimming that would have brought together the two communities most dear to Kelly Devine, and in the sport she loved, was missing: Norwalk versus New Canaan. “We said, ‘Hey, let’s not lose the opportunity to honor Kelly by having a meet among two teams and two communities that she was very close to,’ ” Marchetti recalled Monday afternoon from the deck at the New Canaan YMCA’s competitive pool, flanked by Norwalk coach Pam Raila and NCHS coach David Fine. “Both communities thought the world of her so we said, ‘Hey, let’s put something together’ … Through the generosity of the New Canaan YMCA, we were able to host it here today.”

The inaugural ‘Kelly Devine Dual’ meet drew dozens of friends, colleagues and family members to the Y for a competition that featured a variety of tributes to the beloved, late NCHS and Saxe teacher. The swimmers wore specially made caps that featured ‘Kelly Devine Dual’ in a heart on one side, and a favorite motto of hers—‘Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose’—on the other.

‘Devine’s Sunshine’: Colleagues, Friends, Students Form Fundraiser Team To Honor Memory of New Canaan Teacher

When Jay Devine’s brother, Tim, died of lung cancer in 1999, he left behind a family that included three small children. Five years later, together with those kids, his wife Cathy and his own children—Kelly, Kevin, Daniel, Robert and Kim—Jay Devine began participating in a fundraising walk that benefitted the cancer center at Norwalk Hospital. Known today as the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Sally’s Run, the event grew into an important annual family gathering for the Devines. It became so important to Kelly Devine, in fact, that even those who knew her casually as a colleague in the New Canaan Public Schools district say they understood it was a high priority for the teacher. Kelly died suddenly following a brief illness on April 7.