AS a teacher, she was inspirational. As a charity worker, for more than 20 years, she helped support a deprived community in India.

And as a friend, sister and wife she taught others how to live and how to die.

Even after her death, Faith Ressmeyer’s legacy has endured, with the work of three charities continuing to be helped by £18,000 donated in her memory.

Faith was born in the USA, moving to England to study. She moved to Colchester to study for a masters degree in English at Essex University, then became an English teacher at the town’s Philip Morant School.

She was one of the founding teachers at Colchester Sixth Form College and stayed there for 23 years, rising to become an assistant principal with responsibility for staff development.

Faith’s husband Tom Fenton said: “She was extraordinary.

“She had unlimited energy and enthusiasm. She gave 200 per cent to her work, to the staff and students in Colchester, and she travelled the world.

“She played basketball for Essex and played darts in pubs all across East Anglia with devastating results.”

While still at Philip Morant, Faith took unpaid leave to work with Colchester-based charity, the Good Foundation, which ran a healthcare project in the Tamil Nadu region of India.

It was the beginning of an association which would continue for more than 20 years. The Good Foundation merged operations with the Russ Foundation to provide healthcare to communities in the region, with a special focus on running a children's home and helping people with HIV and Aids.

As part of her involvement, Faith took nine groups of students from the sixth form college on expeditions to India.

Each time, they raised money to fund the projects, then travelled to India to provide hands-on help.

After a lifetime in education, Faith retired in 2010, but not to a life of idleness. That was not her way.

She led courses at the bookshop in her adopted home town of Wivenhoe. She and Tom also bought a yacht and spent three months each year sailing around the Mediterranean.

Tom said: “Last year, she was not feeling quite well and by the summer, had been diagnosed with the auto-immune disease scleroderma.

“She developed cancer, which she was not aware of until November. Doctors diagnosed secondary cancer tumours on her liver.

“She knew immediately what a terminal diagnosis meant – she was given between three and six months to live.

“I asked her what her priorities were. She said she had travelled extensively and there were no other things she wanted to do.

“She just wanted to spend her time with her family and friends.”

In the following months, Tom became Faith’s “social secretary”

arranging visits from relatives and friends from both sides of the Atlantic.

Tom said: “January was party time. It was unbelievable. The house was full of visitors from morning ’til night.

“My main job was scheduling appointments, which was not easy – there were so many and it was wonderful.”

Friends from Faith’s childhood visited from the USA, along with friends closer to home. and through it all, Faith remained positive.

Tom recalled: “She would not allow negative language. She used to say ‘I am not at war with my own body. I am working with it to get the best quality of life I can’.

“She gave us a lesson in how to die.”

As she was cared for at Colchester General Hospital, Faith and Tom were both touched by the kindness and dedication of the staff.

Tom said: “In the January, she was in hospital quite a lot.

“She had to have fluid drained from her abdomen and had to have four visits to hospital in that month alone.

“They were for at least two nights and once it was for a week.

“Eventually, they put a catheter in. It was a new piece of kit, the first time this sort had been used. It was a difficult procedure and extremely painful.

“One of the nurses, Debbie Day, held her hand during the procedure .

“It was a Friday and Debbie was off for the weekend but she gave us her personal phone number, so we could call her if there were any problems.

“When the district nurses came on the Sunday, she talked them through the procedure.”

This act of kindness left its mark on Tom and Faith.

By April, Faith's condition had deteriorated, but whenever she was able, she would be talking, Tom says.

He added: “Whenever she was awake, she was talking, but she found it increasingly difficult to get her words out in the last days.

“Even then, she never let this frighten or depress her.

“We learnt to communicate in non-verbal ways.”

After her death on April 12 at the age of just 64, Faith’s body was donated to medical research.

A memorial service at St Mary's Church, Wivenhoe, was attended by 300 people, those present making donations in her memory, ranging from £20 to $1,000.

Together, it added up to more than £18,000, for the Faith Ressmeyer Memorial Foundation, half of which is being donated to the Russ Foundation.

A further £6,000 will go to the Colchester Cancer Centre Campaign and £3,000 to St Helena Hospice. Tom said: “One of the most important contributors to good health is the positive attitude of the hospital staff.

“When we were in the hospital, there were a couple of days when there was bad new and we could see the terrible effect it had on staff morale.It affected everyone and it was so unfair.

“We had extraordinarily good care and from the district nurses and from Singlepoint, which involved hospital staff, patients’ GPs and the hospice.”