Catherine Fan Holloway
November 22, 1924 - December 26, 2023
Catherine “Kate” Holloway (Walcott), native of Akron, Ohio, died peacefully, surrounded by loving family, in Providence, Rhode Island, on December 26, 2023. Kate was born in Gnadenhutten, Ohio in 1924, to Wallace Wayne Walcott and Madie Fianna Walcott (Sneary). She attended the University of Akron and taught in the Akron Public Schools until 1950. While living in Akron, she met a young engineer, William J. Holloway (Bill), who rented a room with a family living next door to hers. As Kate and Bill told the story, they both were waiting for the same bus one day when she struck up a conversation. They skipped the bus and went for a drink instead, and the conversation went on for nearly seventy years. Kate and Bill wed on December 18, 1948, in Akron, and their marriage was one for the ages.
Bill’s work as a chemical engineer took them to Louisville, Kentucky, where Kate and Bill started the family that would become the pride of their lives. Son Billy was born in 1950, followed by daughters Amy and Jill in 1955 and 1956. Kate and Bill joined the Unitarian Universalist church in Louisville, running the religious education program. Life was already very full when Bill got the opportunity to move to Leominster, MA to open a new plant for Borden Chemical. Bill’s work responsibilities were heavy, and moving across the country by herself, with three young children, was one of Kate’s most harrowing stories. It was one of many. Kate will be remembered as a delightful storyteller and conversationalist, who carried herself with unflinching grace and charm. She was both elegant and down-to-earth, hilarious and profound, and always committed to helping those less fortunate than herself.
Leominster, Massachusetts, became a true home to Kate. From running the youth programs at the First Unitarian Church of Leominster to co-founding the famous Leominster Big Ladies’ Bridge Club, Kate made a lasting impression on people in Leominster. Supporting her children in all of their many wild and ambitious endeavors; supporting Bill in his demanding career, she still found time to share with her many friends and acquaintances and to develop her own interests and enthusiasms. Organizing PTA events, volunteering in The League of Women Voters, leading scout troops, endless youth theater productions -- Katie appeared tireless.
Kate returned to the classroom when her children were grown. She taught fourth grade at Applewild School, in Fitchburg, for eighteen years. She was an incredible teacher, deeply invested in her students and their growth. She had an unquenchable thirst for learning, and many of her former students recall her lessons on natural science and anthropology for years. Most of all, they recall her high standards and the joy she took in learning.
While living in Leominster, Kate and Bill began a tradition of bringing their growing family of kids and grandkids to Good Harbor Beach, in Gloucester, MA, for summer vacations. Kate’s delight at playing on the beach with her grandchildren, her unmatched beachcombing abilities, and her constant curiosity and wonder at the beauty of the ocean were among her most endearing qualities.
In 1988, Bill – always one for bold new adventures – designed and built his passive solar dream home in beautiful Rindge, NH. Although she was sad to leave her beloved Leominster, Kate embraced the project and that home, with its master living room surrounded by windows overlooking the snowy New Hampshire woods, was the site where Kate hosted countless gatherings of her growing family and their ever-widening circle of friends.
It was while she was living in the tranquil New Hampshire woods that Kate picked up what became a true passion for watercolor. The snowy birches of New Hampshire and the distinct seascapes of Salt Island off of Good Harbor Beach were her most constant subjects. Through years of self-study, and several summers of classes with noted Massachusetts artist, Bernie Gerstner, Kate became a distinctive and talented watercolorist.
When they reached their eighties, Bill and Kate made a final move together to live in Gloucester full time, where they stayed in an apartment overlooking Gloucester Harbor. Kate made many friends in the city, and she and Bill were mainstays of the Senior Center Duplicate Bridge Club. She adored Gloucester, and she and Bill had a beautiful final ten years of marriage there.
After Bill died, in 2018, Kate moved to Providence, RI, to be closer to her daughter, Jill. She lived first at Wingate on the East Side, then spent her final six months at Tockwotton on the Waterfront. She was given superlative care at these facilities, and made many friends among the residents and staff.
Kate left a singular impression on everybody she met with her grace, her wit, her elegance, and her genuine interest in other people. She was endlessly curious about the world and its people, and took great efforts in encouraging everybody to continue learning and growing. Kate was a grand woman – kind, stoic, and unfailingly gracious. She will be dearly missed.
Kate is survived by her daughters, Amy Dean (and her husband, Richard) and Jill Holloway (and John Smithers); her daughter-in-law Diane Holloway; her six grandchildren: Christopher Brody, Matthew Holloway (and his wife, Emily), Kenneth Holloway (and his wife, Nicole), Jerry Ullman (and his wife, Kristle) and Michael Ullman (and his wife, Jennie), and Joslyn Haineswood (and her husband, Tim); her two step granddaughters Dominique Dube and Natasha Shoemaker and her six great-grandchildren, Isadora, Abigail, and Emmeline Haineswood, Cora Holloway, and Alfred and Larson Holloway. She was predeceased by her husband, Bill, her brother, Tom, and her only son, Billy.
Services will be held at the First Church in Leominster, Unitarian Universalist at 1:00 on February 10, 2024. In lieu of flowers, please donate The Employee Enrichment Program at Tockwotton on the Waterfront (https://tockwotton.org/support/ -- click DONATE for this option).