Kathryn Frances Walker, 26, died tragically Aug. 7 after a swimming accident on the Comal River.
The UT-Austin graduate and lifelong Longhorns fan was just beginning a promising career in nursing, a profession that had become her true passion. After graduating from nursing school earlier this year, she had begun working for the Seton Hospital system here in Austin. Her graduation was so recent that her "pinning" ceremony - the traditional welcome of new graduates into the profession - will be held as part of her memorial service.
Kathryn Walker - family and friends called her "KatWalk" - was born Sept. 25, 1987 in Houston, to Jeanne Marie Walker and John E. "Ned" Walker, who now reside in Aspen, Colorado. After graduating from Kingwood High School in Kingwood, Texas, in 2006 she entered the University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. While at UT, she was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and became an even more devoted Longhorn. Even after graduating with honors from archrival Texas A&M's nursing school in Round Rock with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014, she made sure everyone knew that her heart remained Burnt Orange.
Those who love her say she was ideally suited for nursing - a compassionate, caring, and dedicated "servant leader."
She was also an adventurous and spontaneous traveler, with a natural curiosity for the world and genuine interest in its people. Her love and passion for life was contagious. She lived and appreciated everyday to the fullest bringing joy, love and friendship to so many people. She found happiness and appreciation in every moment of her life - whether a beautiful sunset, a new video of her niece Mabel, making a new friend, hearing a new song, or caring for a premature baby - each were miracles to her.
A gifted athlete, Kat was an accomplished gymnast and strong skier. She also loved a broad range of music. Her loving boyfriend, Zack Morgan, is a local Austin musician, and she could frequently be found at their performances or enjoying the live music scene throughout Austin. Her favorite song was Louis Armstrong's, "What a Wonderful World."
Family was central to her life, especially her niece Mabel James Romano, for whom she was a doting and devoted aunt. Her affection was returned by a large and loving extended family, more than 30 of whom were at her bedside when she passed away. Her parents said, "Although her life was far too short, the 26 years we had Kathryn were a blessing. Along with her brothers, she filled our hearts with love and laughter."
In addition to her parents, Mabel and Zack, Kathryn is survived by her two brothers, Timothy and Patrick Romano, as well as by Timothy's wife Ellie Childs and Patrick's partner Lindsey Moreland.
A celebration of her life will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the UT-Austin Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, in the Touchdown Club - North End Zone.
Having recently accepted a nursing position at the Seton Medical Center Austin NICU, she was excited to help save little lives and support families during difficult times. To honor her passion for children and nursing, in lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made via the Seton Fund to the Seton Medical Center Austin, Marialice Shivers Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in memory of Kathryn Walker. Donations can be made in memory of Kathryn Walker at http://www.setonfund.org/give/.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Aug. 10 to Aug. 11, 2014