Katharina (Kathy) C. Decas, 84

Oct 31, 2023

Wareham, MA – On October 30, 2023, Katharina passed away in her Wareham home at the age of 84.  She was born in Wareham, Massachusetts on July 9, 1939, the third of four children and the only daughter of Georgia and Charles Decas.

Her childhood made wonderful memories with the large extended family into which she was born. Many, many cousins, those living in the United States and those living in her parents’ homeland of Greece would come to visit and enjoy their time in the Decas yard and the beaches of Cape Cod. Katharina’s home was always open, welcoming, and spilling over with delicious home-made Greek food for family, friends, and visitors. She took pride in the generosity of her parents and the assistance they gave to so many relatives and friends. As a young girl working in her father’s store on Wareham’s main street, Katharina made friends with many townspeople. It also instilled in her a solid work ethic she would retain throughout her life. Her high school years were full of good friends and good times, whether she was cheerleading at basketball games, or swooning over Elvis at dances. She was always proud of her Greek heritage – the language, the food, the culture, and especially the dance!  She was a lifelong member of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church community, from its beginnings in New Bedford to its current location in North Dartmouth. On several occasions Katharina traveled back to Greece with cousins and friends to gather with family members and celebrate all that she appreciated about the country.

After graduating from Wareham High School, Katharina continued her education, graduating from Springfield College in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, specializing in Physical Education. She immediately found employment with the Town of Sharon (MA) Public Schools as the high school girls Physical Education teacher.

Charged with the task of developing more team sports for girls, “Miss Decas” started the field hockey program in the fall, coaching both Varsity and Junior Varsity teams (including lining the field herself at first!) followed in the winter by coaching girls’ basketball.  At that time, girls played the game with six players on the court.  When the game transitioned to teams of five, Katharina put herself to work learning new strategies and techniques to make the girls’ team competitive.  Two years later, her team won the Hockomock League title. Spring season brought softball, and for her first five years at Sharon High, Katharina coached Varsity and Junior Varsity levels of that sport, all the while teaching a full-day schedule of classes.  While Katharina valued the students that could excel in athletics, she was known to show understanding and empathy for those students for whom athletics did not come easy. She offered gems of advice-for-life to her students and athletes that are remembered and quoted years later; the most often recalled being “Don’t panic, adjust.”

When Katharina retired from her position as high school PE teacher for the Sharon Public Schools in 2002, thirty-nine years after she started, thousands of women, girls and athletes, could each tell their own “Miss Decas” story. In the year of her retirement, she was recognized at the Girls and Women in Sports Day Celebration in Faneuil Hall, an event honoring female athletes on all levels.  In 2014 Katharina was again honored by being inducted into the New Agenda Northeast Hall of Fame. That agency recognizes accomplishments in advancing the role of women in sports. 

After such a lengthy career in teaching it was inevitable that when she would travel, or attend gatherings – it didn’t matter where - someone would approach her and tentatively ask, “Miss Decas??” What followed were smiles and laughs. The names got harder to remember, but she enjoyed the memory of the conversation that would follow. Those were the intangible gifts of her life’s work.

Katharina was fortunate to live at a time when women could choose to prioritize their work and their careers. She also managed to keep her family at the center of her life. In the late 1990’s she stepped back from coaching field hockey to focus her attention on the care her mother needed. They made a great pair and while Georgia may not have understood the level of dedication Katharina gave to her career, there was no mother prouder of her daughter, nor more grateful for the care she received from her. Katharina’s new career as care-giver was extended to include her brother George, for whom she spent over 10 years giving care and supervision as he slowly slipped away and succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. She took on George’s interest in historical preservation and together they oversaw the renovation and preservation of the Besse House in Wareham’s historical district, as well as ensuring that his collections of historical items got appropriately taken care of upon his passing. Her brother Bill’s health began to decline.  They were good companions in their childhood home sharing a passion for watching good football games and old movies until his passing in June of this year.

Katharina took much pride in the success of all her brothers, George and Bill as lawyers and John as former CEO of the various Decas Cranberry enterprises their father helped build.

Katharina is survived by her brother John C. Decas, a nephew Dean J. Decas – both of Wareham, a niece Alexandra Levy (Eric), grand-niece Lucy of Los Angeles, CA., and many, many cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents Charles and Georgia Decas, nephews Harry J. and Joseph J. Decas, sister-in-law Beverly (John) Decas, and brothers George C. and William C., all of Wareham.

Katharina would want family and friends to extend sincere thanks to those who gave her support and care during her illness ~ her older brother John, her neice Alexandra, Fr. Peter Leneweaver, Sheila White, Laureen Decas, Norman Beauregard, Derek LaBollita, Anne Kyle, and Peggy Arguimbau. Special gratitude to care-givers Maria Costa, Shantalle Leon, and the nurses and staff of Community Nurses Hospice Association.

Visiting hours will be at Chapman Funerals and Cremations, 2599 Cranberry Highway (Rt. 28), Wareham, on Sunday, November 5, 2023 from 4 – 7 PM.  A funeral service will be held on Monday, November 6, 2023 at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 186 Cross Street, North Dartmouth, MA at 10 AM.  Interment will follow in Center Cemetery, Wareham. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Katharina’s life.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Onset Bay Association, P.O. Box 799, Onset, MA 02558 (Please designate Fireworks Fund in the memo field).  For directions or to leave a message of condolence visit: www.chapmanfuneral.com