A memorial and mass will be held on Friday, March 18, 2016 at Annunciation Catholic Church for family and friends.
Mid-day on March 5, 2016, Kathryn Grace Fleming (née Kathy Lynn Harbert) passed away, with her husband by her side, at home in Manassas, Virginia following a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was 67 years old.
Kathryn was born in Normal, Illinois on August 9, 1948. She was the first of two daughters of the late Alice Ruth and Wendell D. Harbert.
Kathryn lived a life of brilliance and scholarship, with a strong sense of principle and an unflagging belief in justice as the guiding pathway throughout her illustrious career as an educator and a lawyer.
Kathryn’s father, a firm believer in free speech, moved his family to pursue a long and heralded career in newspapers, and Kathryn spent her high school years at Barnstable High School in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Kathryn graduated from Colby Sawyer Junior College in 1968 and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1972. For a time during her baccalaureate study and in the height of the Vietnam conflict, she was enrolled at Marietta College and insisted on staying on campus to finish her exams despite the school closing due to student unrest.
Kathryn’s work in academia was legend, and she was awarded her Ph.D. in Speech Communications from the Pennsylvania State University in 1984. Kathryn was the recipient in 1985 of the prestigious National Communications Association’s Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. Her dissertation, entitled A Neuropsychological Framework for the Assessment of Competing Theories of Rhetoric as Epistemic, is still studied today.
She was a revered professor of speech and public speaking at Georgetown University and Penn State where her students and professors ranked among some of the most well-known statesmen in the country. In the late 1990s, Kathryn’s love of speech led her to complete her law degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she was awarded her Juris Doctor in Law in 1997. She was admitted to the Florida Bar and moved to Key West, Florida with her husband, Jeffrey Blake, to practice family law.
Key West captured her heart, and she and Jeffrey spent 10 years in this bohemian town where she fought hard for the rights of her clients. Much of work was pro bono as she rallied around the down trodden to achieve the justice to which she believed everyone is entitled. In 2010, Kathryn and Jeffrey returned to Manassas, VA to care for Kathryn’s elderly mother whose eyesight was plagued by macular degeneration.
Kathryn led a full life from her hobbies, both golfing and piloting small planes, to her steadfastness as a wife, a colleague, and a friend. She was the “fairy godmother” to nieces and nephews who adored her. Kathryn opened her heart to those around her to listen, to lend a hand, and to represent as an attorney those whom justice had yet to serve.
Kathryn is survived by her husband Jeffrey E. Blake, a stockbroker, and her sister, Sue Pearson as well as nieces and nephews.
A private memorial and family gathering to celebrate her life will be held on Friday, March 18, 2016.
Contributions in tribute of Kathryn can be made to
Park West Lions club
8620 Sunnygate Drive
Manassas, VA 20109