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Katherine (McNamara) Monaghan

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Katherine (McNamara) Monaghan Obituary
Katherine (McNamara) Monaghan


Katherine E (Katie) McNamara Monaghan died at home on June 8, 2014 of natural causes. She would have turned 88 in July.

Graveside services will be held at 2 pm, Thursday, June 12 at St. Patrick's Irish Settlement Cemetery, Madison County, Iowa. Donations in her name may be made to the Autism Society, or to Harmony Foundation International in Nashville. Online condolences may be left for her family at

Born in Des Moines, Mrs. Monaghan was a native of Winterset, Madison County, Iowa. A graduate of Winterset High School, she attended St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana and the University of Iowa, where she received her bachelors and masters degrees in Journalism.

After living in Detroit, Michigan and Des Moines, Iowa for the next few years while pursuing a career in journalism, Mrs. Monaghan, her husband Bill, and their two young children relocated to Chicago in 1959. During her time in Des Moines in the early 1950s, Mrs. Monaghan broke new ground when she was named the first female department head of the Des Moines Register and Tribune, serving as their Women's Editor.

Putting her career on hold for twenty years to raise a family, she was very active in the Saint Mary of the Woods Parish Altar and Rosary Society, serving as an officer several times, and in the Regina Dominican High School Mothers' Club. She and Bill were also avid bridge players, and belonged to many parish and neighborhood bridge groups over the years.

While her children were still in school, she earned a teaching certification at Northeastern Illinois University. Although she substitute taught on occasion, she later decided this was not her long-term career calling and decided instead to look for other, better-suited options.

After her children were through college, knowing that the likelihood would be low that she could walk into a newspaper office and regain the type of position she'd had previously, she returned to school and, taking six classes in one semester and earning all As, she received her paralegal certification.

This began a long and happy second career in the Corporate Litigation department of the downtown Chicago law firm of Sachnoff & Weaver (now ReedSmith). Although she retired in 1991, she still maintained friendships with many of her coworkers and is fondly remembered there as a very bright, articulate, energetic professional.

In later years Katie traveled the U.S. and the world. Having previously been to Europe twice, she returned there several times in the last 25 years, visiting Ireland, England, and France. She later developed an appetite for cruising, which has since led her to Alaska, Scandinavia and the Balkans, Australia and New Zealand, Spain and back across the Atlantic, and, in her most recent extended trip in January of 2013, through the Panama Canal.

Katie remained in excellent health and very active until the end. A 2004 colon cancer survivor, she continued to be an energetic, vibrant part of her parish, Saint Mary of the Woods, and her parish bible study group. She was an active patron of the arts, often attending theater events at the Marriott Lincolnshire and in other area venues with a similarly energetic group of friends, and she regularly dined out with friends and family. A week before her death she had attended her granddaughter's high school graduation in suburban Indianapolis, then she returned home to join her daughter for a couple dinners out that week while her daughter was visiting Chicago for work.

Katie was preceded in death by her father and mother, Ernest and Marguerite (Beam) McNamara, and her brother Michael (Bobbie) McNamara, all of Winterset, Iowa, and by her husband, William J Monaghan of Chicago. She was the loving mother of Mary Marguerite "Meg" (Ralph Ballart) of San Ramon, California and K. Ann (Bradley B.) McAlexander of Fishers, Indiana. She was the proud grandmother of Elizabeth Anne and William Marcus "Billy" Ballart, and of Patrick Michael and Margaret Joyce "Maggie" McAlexander.


Published in Des Moines Register on June 11, 2014
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