Ava Preacher, age 67, passed away on July 14, 2021 at her residence. She was born in 1953 in Washington, D.C., to Charles B. Preacher and Ava Moore Preacher. She spent her formative years in Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi, graduating valedictorian from St. Katharine’s School in Davenport. She spent a year at Vassar before completing her B.A. in Letters at the University of Iowa. She studied for a year in Paris at the Centres des Etudes Cinematographiques, and obtained her M.A. in Comparative Literature, A.B.D., also at the University of Iowa.
She taught at both the University of Iowa and Wayne State University before relocating to South Bend to join the University of Notre Dame Faculty. She taught in the Department of Communication and Theater from 1985-1991 and served as Director of the Gender Studies Program from 1990-1993. For the remainder of her professional career, she was Assistant Dean and Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts and Letters. She was a dedicated professional throughout her career, a published author who served on many committees and wore multiple administrative hats. She was a tireless and beloved advocate for Notre Dame undergraduates. She was the recipient of diverse awards and honors prior to her retirement from Notre Dame in 2018.
Ava shared her life with Coleen Hoover for 28 years, marrying in 2011. Their four children, Nathan, Ava, Dane, and Nell knew their shared home to be a welcoming and punctiliously clean place. Summer evenings were spent enjoying cocktails on the porch, and colder weather brought nights reading in front of the cozy fire.
Ava was a nurturer by nature, with her children, the Notre Dame students she advised, and with her expansive garden. She was a superlative cook, preparing everything from elaborate French feasts to American down-home staples with equal skill. She firmly believed that love could be communicated through the dishes she put on the table. She had a keen mind and a sharp wit. She read voraciously, prized logic and reason, and admired artists, poets, writers, and great thinkers. She flourished in an academic environment with her love of learning and encouraged her two daughters to question and argue and explore the world. She had a deep well of patience, and iron will power to the very end.
Ava’s most distinctive characteristic was her capacity for kindness and generosity. She had an ability to not only connect with others, but to support them and encourage their best selves. She had a whole-faced, contagious smile, and was liberal with her attention and her hugs. Ava’s diminutive 5’2″ frame belied her huge presence. She was small, but mighty. She was a fighter, and a champion for just causes, but she was always respectful, graceful, and tactful. She faced adversity but refused to let it make her bitter. Instead, she approached life with compassion, empathy, and an open heart. She believed in putting goodness into the world, and her lifelong motto was “Take the high road.”
Ava is survived by her wife, Coleen; daughters, Nell (Max Tolomei) and Ava Collins; stepsons, Nathan (Laura) and Dane Hoover; grandson, Dashiell Collins; step-grandchildren, Lydia, Steven, and Samantha Hoover; siblings, Mary Ann Beck (David) and Robert Preacher (Joy); and numerous nephews. The family thanks the personnel of Heart to Heart Hospice and Senior1Care for their guidance and care in her final days.
At Ava’s request, there will be no funeral or memorial service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions for Ava may be made to Planned Parenthood, the Foodbank of Northern Indiana, the ASPCA, and Heart to Heart Hospice.
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