Kristine M. Ensign, a high school teacher and coach in the Columbus area who in the 1990s taught business courses at the former Libbey High School and coached the volleyball team at Cardinal Stritch High School to championships, died Sunday at her Grove City, Ohio, home. She was 44.
Ms. Ensign, a business teacher and coach since 2000 at Groveport Madison High School, learned three years ago that she had angiocarcinoma.
“Kris was competitive her whole life,” said her brother, D. Ward Ensign. “When she was told she had such a rare cancer that most people didn’t live five years, she was already counting to five.
“Every time they came up with a chemo plan or a radiation plan, she said, ‘Yes, I want to do this. There’s no question I want to fight it,’ ” he said. That involved travel to a cancer center in Houston. To help defray the expense, a student council member proposed a fund-raising walk. The ongoing effort became known as Mission Ensign, and students and staff alike wore T-shirts emblazoned with a superhero’s “E” across the chest and “Ensign’s Entourage” on the back. About $10,000 was raised in 2011 alone.
“The whole school came together as a family,” said her brother, an assistant principal in the Toledo schools.
Ms. Ensign received a bachelor’s degree in business education from Bowling Green State University. She started to teach at Libbey in 1993, and while there, she was varsity volleyball coach at Stritch, where she led her team to championships and was named district coach of the year. She was assistant girls basketball coach and coached fast-pitch softball.
“She turned the volleyball program around. She had a great rapport with all the kids,” said Greg “Hawk” Christian, head baseball coach at St. John's Jesuit High School for whom Ms. Ensign was an assistant coach at Stritch.
She was born Feb. 4, 1969, and grew up in Oregon, where her paternal grandfather, K. Ward Ensign, was the longtime fire chief. She was a 1987 graduate of Clay High School, and for two consecutive years she was named to the league’s first team in volleyball, basketball, and softball.
She had a master’s degree in computer information technology from Regis University.
She was devoted to dachshunds, and her five had sports-themed names, including Muddy, and each looked different from the rest — brindle; piebald; black short-haired, white long-haired with brown spots, and brown.
Surviving are parents, Georgette and Douglas Ward; sisters, Laurie Adams and Karry Edwards Loch, and brother, D. Ward Ensign.
Visitation is scheduled for 2-8 p.m. today in Myers-Woodyard Funeral Home, Groveport. Visitation is to continue from 5-8 p.m. Thursday and from 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Walker Funeral Home in Sylvania Township. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Christ the King Church, where the family will greet visitors after 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to Angiosarcoma Awareness Inc. or Mission Ensign at Groveport Madison High.