Kathryn Ouellette, a special education teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Portland who had a passion for life, died Friday at home with her family by her side. She was 54.

Mrs. Ouellette battled three different diagnoses of cancer over the past 18 years: a brain tumor in 1996, stage 3 breast cancer in 1999, and stage 4 ovarian cancer since June 2012.

She was remembered by loved ones Tuesday as a strong, courageous and selfless woman who devoted her life to family and her community.

“She was the healthiest sick person you could ever meet,” said her daughter Kelsey Ouellette, 22, of Cumberland. “She always went on walks. It was crazy how fast she walked sometimes. She really took care of herself. Even on her worst days, we were able to enjoy the things we loved doing because she was so strong and fought so hard.”

Mrs. Ouellette was a special education teacher at Lincoln Middle School for 26 years. For most of her career, she worked with eighth-graders, helping students to prepare for high school. She stopped working last January when her illness progressed. On Monday, the staff at Lincoln Middle wore teal ribbons in her honor, and students were told of her passing. Principal Suellyn Santiago said Mrs. Ouellette was a calming and strong presence in the classroom.

“She knew exactly what students needed and knew how to collaborate with others to help make students successful,” Santiago said. “She intuitively was an amazing teacher.”

She was the loving wife of Mark Ouellette, her husband for 26 years. The couple lived in Cumberland, where they raised two Kelsey and her sister, Jordan Ouellette. Her husband reminisced Tuesday, recalling the first time they met. At the time, she worked in the student affairs office at the University of Maine in Farmington.

“That’s where I saw her. She was not impressed,” he said, chuckling. “I was knucklehead. It took awhile. It was a lot of legwork – a.k.a. chasing.”

She graduated with a degree in special and elementary education in 1982. She soon returned home to Massachusetts to teach at Lovering High School in Taunton and West Junior High in Brockton.

On Jan. 10, 1984, a tragedy brought her and Mark Ouellette together again. During a ski trip to Maine, her father had a massive heart attack and died. Her future husband said she called him for help.

On Aug. 27, 1988, they were married, and soon they returned to Maine.

Mrs. Ouellette had a passion for skiing and held a season pass at Sunday River for the past 22 years.

She gave handmade cards and personalized gifts and often made banners and posters for her daughters’ teams at Greely High School and attended their games.

Kelsey Ouellette said her mother always seemed to have time for others.

“She was extremely thoughtful,” she said. “Everything she did, she did it to perfection, or it seemed like that to me. … She always found time for us and balanced her life at school with family. She found time to care for everyone. I’m so proud of her for being able to do all that she could.”