A longtime Stillwater Area School District teacher was found dead at a townhouse fire in the 7000 block of 19th Street in Oakdale early Tuesday morning.
The woman who died, Catherine A. Weschcke, 65, was a teacher at Rutherford Elementary School in Stillwater, according to a notice from District 834. Some of the schools she worked at include Andersen, Stonebridge, Lake Elmo, and most recently, Rutherford.
“The Rutherford community has a very heavy heart today after learning of the tragic death of former teacher, Catherine Weschcke,” Rutherford Principal Heather Nelson said in a statement. “Catherine worked hard to help support students in their desire to grow and learn. Over the past 25 years she touched many students’ lives with her dedication and her ability to relate to students with humor, care and concern. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”
Weschcke began her career in the district at in 1988. She worked at Andersen, Stonebridge and Lake Elmo elementary schools, where she was a fifth and sixth grade teacher, a media specialist and a math interventionist.
Crews responded to the scene at about 5 a.m. Tuesday, March 19, and forced their way into the home after a neighbor in an adjoining unit called 9-11, Oakdale Fire Chief Jeff Anderson said.
The cause of death has not been determined, he said. Weschcke was found in an upstairs bedroom. She apparently lives alone, Anderson said.
“We don’t see anything suspicious,” he said. “It’s still under investigation.”
The fire was relatively small and it was contained to the first floor, Anderson said. There was heavy smoke in townhouse, however.
No firefighters were injured while battling the blaze and the scene was essentially cleared by about 7 a.m. Tuesday, Anderson said. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner is expected to determine the cause of death, Anderson said.
Crews from Maplewood and Woodbury responded to the fire, and firefighters from Lake Elmo also assisted the Oakdale Fire Department.