Catherine Frances Smith (1921 - 2017)

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Catherine (Kay) Frances Smith was born September 9, 1921 to George Mullins and Catherine Ledwich in Yakima, Washington and died August 24, 2017 in Yakima.

Kay grew up in Yakima, living and working in the three family hotels: the Washington, the Montana, and the Michigan. She graduated from Marylhurst College in Oregon, and obtained a Master's of Social Work from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Kay married Bernard Diamond Smith, a fellow Washingtonian and clinical psychologist, in 1947 and was widowed in 1951. They had two daughters, Bridget Smith of Juneau, and Molly Smith of Washington, D.C.

Kay worked for many years as a clinical social worker for Catholic Family and Child Services in Yakima. During her time there, Kay participated in Operation Peter Pan, an airlift of Cuban children to the United States after the revolution and subsequent takeover by Fidel Castro. She brought 150 children to the Yakima Valley where they were cared for in foster homes until their parents could join them. She also co-founded a home for unwed mothers and facilitated adoptions.

Kay moved with her two daughters, Bridget and Molly, to Juneau in 1968, looking for money and adventure. She found both. She was the adoptions consultant for Alaska as well as the regional manager for social services in Southeast. She traveled all over the state and took a particular satisfaction in ensuring that Alaska Native children were placed with Alaska Native families, long before it was mandated.

After retirement, she operated Mullins House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Juneau with her business partners, Pat Denny and Sue Glocke, for 18 years. She was known for her Dutch Baby pancakes and stimulating conversation. She was an excellent and adventurous cook and enjoyed hosting parties for friends and family.

Kay loved to travel both nationally and internationally. Her last solo trip at 90 was driving to her granddaughter Sarah's wedding in Juneau through Canada with her dogs and several cases of wine in tow. Her last trip was to Sitka for her granddaughter Brenna's wedding in March of 2017.

Kay loved the theater and, upon arriving in Juneau in 1968, acted in Hoochinoo and Hotcakes. She eventually acted in 27 plays and worked behind the scenes in countless others at Perseverance Theatre and Juneau-Douglas Little Theater as well as serving on the Perseverance Theatre Board for many years. As an actor, in every production, she counted Catherine Frances Smith September 9, 1921- August 24, 2017 her lines. No matter how many she had, she was always a compelling presence on stage. Her favorite roles were in The Importance of Being Earnest, The Greeks, and Island of Tears.

Kay was a devout Catholic and served on the Parish Council of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because of her strong faith, she held her Church accountable.

Kay's family was central to her. She was very proud of her daughters, Bridget and Molly, and took delight in her two granddaughters, Sarah and Brenna. She loved holidays, with their opportunities for dressing up. With her business partners, she turned the Mullins House B & B into a terrifying and popular Halloween Haunted House that frightened and delighted a whole generation of children in Juneau. On Easter, she dressed as the Easter Bunny, leaving eggs for her granddaughters. The US Bicentennial offered her the opportunity to dress her entire family in colonial attire. Even birthday parties for her dogs offered a venue for her creativity.

Kay loved the outdoors, hiking the trails in Juneau with her dogs. She had a special affinity for animals and during her lifetime, had seven Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and two Russian Wolfhounds. With her friends, she built a cabin on South Douglas, and for a time, had her own fishing boat.

Politically, she had an unwavering belief in social justice and was a strong advocate for the rights of women. She was a Democrat to the core. She taught her daughters to always speak their minds and to never accept a bad seat in a restaurant.

Kay returned to Yakima in 2009 to see, as she put it, "cows and horses instead of bears." She drove her own car until she was 92.

Kay is survived by daughters Bridget Smith (Jim Asper), Molly Smith (Suzanne Blue Star Boy), and granddaughters Sarah Asper-Smith (Mitch Watley) and Brenna (Keith) Reeder, and great grandson James Alexander Reeder.

Kay's funeral was held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Yakima on September 12, 2017; she was interred with her beloved husband Bernard Diamond Smith at Calgary Cemetery in Yakima.

For Kay's friends and family in Juneau, a Memorial Service will be held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 12:10 PM. Immediately afterward, everyone is invited for a luncheon next door at St. Ann's Parish Hall to share stories and memories.
Published in The Juneau Empire from May 27 to June 26, 2018
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