Our daughter and sister, Katie, passed away on May 8th at the age of 35 after an incredibly difficult battle with mental illnesses that eventually took too great of a toll on her body. She was so loved and no words can express the devastation we're feeling. She touched many lives with her kind, sweet, and compassionate nature, and was both a gentle soul and a fierce fighter (as anyone who had ever played a competitive game with her will attest). We'll miss seeing her smiling face, we'll miss hearing her gleeful laugh, and most of all we will miss hugging our brave sister and daughter.
Katie would have wanted everyone to know that her life was filled with so much happiness because of the people in it. She found true joy in shared experiences with people she loved and cared about. Anyone who spent time with her knows how delighted she was to do the simple things, because it wasn't about what she was doing, but her connection to family and friends. She brought her quirky, fun, and infectious personality into all of our lives. We know it would have been important to her that those who knew her understand that, while she was struggling, she also tried to live life to the fullest. We have so many memories and photos over the years allowing us to take solace in knowing that Katie made wonderful memories that will live on through all of us.
Katie was deeply caring and incredibly empathetic. So much so, that while laying on a raft in a lake we spent time at every summer, she once insisted on lifting a single ant out of the lake and making her sisters swim it back to shore. We'll forever smile thinking about the things that brought Katie joy. She loved to relax and cuddle with her sister's dog. She was always in the middle of a creative project, and her handiwork shined through in everything from jewelry designs to festive Christmas ornaments. She was a genius at constructing elaborate homemade Halloween costume (a wearable working hot tub!). If you were looking for a mini-adventure with an enthusiastic friend, Katie was top of the list, game for everything from taking in a murder mystery dinner (Katie was a top notch amateur sleuth) to RV-hopping at the camping expo to looking for off-beat treasures at the flea market. She'd come to brunch with ridiculous gifts like scratch-off lotto tickets and new Slim Jim flavors or, if you were really lucky, one of her famed bean dips (if anyone was going to bring back the lima bean--it was Katie!). Her sense of humor was one of a kind.
There were so many qualities we admired in Katie, and one of them was her commitment to advocating for what she believed in. If she saw someone experience an injustice, no matter how big or small, she would try to make it right with a tenacity matched by few. That spirit of determination was present in everything she did. She was your biggest cheeleader--inspiring, kind-hearted, and generous in offering her support. We are so grateful to have experienced her many unique gifts while she was with us.
We know many people may feel stunned and shaken to hear that Katie had struggled with mental health issues. Her privacy was important to her, and we were respecting her wishes. You all were a part of her support system at different points in her life when she needed you.
Our family will be holding a private celebration of her life at a time when it is safe for people to gather again. We want to honor her by asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in her memory. NAMI is a nonprofit organization that educated our family and helped us navigate through our efforts to support her, and which can be a resource to many others in the future. Katie's compassion for others is in keeping with the mission of this organization, and in the past few months she expressed her desire to become a peer navigator for others struggling with mental health once she was ready to take on that role.
We hope you will take some time to look through their website for more information. Mental health issues affect so many people and it is likely all of us know somebody who has been affected. Being educated about how to support friends and loved ones can pave the way for someone struggling to get help.
We would love to hear your fond memories of Katie in the messages section below. If you would like to share photos and media, please email them to [email protected]
rather than post them here. Thank you for all your support during this terribly difficult time.
Bob & Mary, Anne & Emily, Susie & Owen