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This past July, our community lost the bright, smiling light of Kathleen Burgett to appendiceal cancer. As an artist, friend and teacher, she touched the lives of many and will be dearly missed.
Born in Montana on March 17, 1949, at Missoula General Hospital, Kathleen was the first of six children for Earl and Betty Lou Burgett.
When Kathy was 5 months old, the family moved to the Olympic Peninsula, where Earl was a fifth-grade teacher in Port Angeles.
Although Washington would be her home, her life was influenced greatly by the spacious air of the big-sky country where she spent nearly every summer on the family farm. Her childhood in Washington continued to include a connection with the land, where she and her brothers and sisters spent some of their early childhood on a 3-acre farm in Alderwood Manor, back when Lynnwood was wide-open farmland.
Kathy was a free-spirited girl, athletic and creative. She graduated from Inglemoor High School in Bothell, Washington, where she was involved in student government, played on the tennis team and rode horses.
Studying at the University of Washington, Kathy would delve into the world of art. Here, she emerged in a vibrant impressionist style and explored the medium of batiking, developing her own unique techniques. Her first solo art show was in 1972 at Penryn Gallery in Seattle, Washington.
As a Chi Omega sorority sister, she developed deep, enduring friendships that remain strong even today. These friends have stayed remarkably close, even continuing to reunite into Kathleen's final years.
Kathy's fun, loving spirit and liberal sensibilities were right at home in the current of the '60s. Her adventures included riding trains and hitchhiking all over Europe, picking apples and planting trees across Washington state, and hitching through the U.S. and South America.
With her future husband, Michael Garling, she explored Mayan ruins in Guatemala and camped on active volcanoes. In love, they would bring into the world three children, Elyse, Brielle and Ian.
After many years of substitute teaching, Kathleen returned to the University of Washington in 1995 to get her full teaching credentials, beginning an art education career at Port Townsend High School that would last more than a decade.
As an instructor, she put forward extraordinary effort in organizing student art shows, fundraising auctions and field trips. She had an earnest desire to help her individual students kindle their budding artistic creativity and had a keen eye for the great potential in what her kids produced.
Friendship was one of Kathy's chief values. To countless people, young and old alike, Kathy was indeed a best friend. She had a remarkable and inspiring resolution to focus her attention on the beautiful and poetic aspects of the human experience; she had a true love for nature, people and freedom. Her unrestrained appreciation for life continues to be an inspiration to many.
She is survived by her parents, Earl and Betty Lou Burgett; children Elyse Garling and her husband, Nic Bottero, Brielle Garling and Ian Garling and his wife, Allison Lasater; Amelia and Logan Garling; and siblings Buzz (Colleen) Burgett, Melanie (Kevin) Coates, Jon (Kyung) Burgett, William and Nora Burgett.
The family would like to extend gratitude to all who reached out with support and sympathy during her illness.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 31, 2013, at 1 p.m. at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Avenue, Port Townsend.
Donations may be made to Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County, 540 East Eighth Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362; Habitat for Humanity, www.habitat.org; and the Kathleen Burgett Memorial Scholarship (Kitsap Credit Union).
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Aug. 18, 2013
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