Catherine M Sugarman (1917 - 2016)

  • "I had the pleasure of getting to know Katie and Harry ten..."
    - Caron Shutan
  • " I have been thinking about all those wonderful early years..."
    - Holly Wechsler Schwartztol
  • "Katie was my dear friend and we were neighbors we became..."
    - Ann and Arie. Ilton
    - Maureen Stockwell
  • "Barbara, Peter and David, you had a remarkable mother."
    - Bea Sennewald

1917 - 2016
Catherine (Katie) Sugarman, nee Katerina Marianne Hirsch, died peacefully at home in Boca Raton, Florida, with her husband, Harry, at her side on, August 27, 2016.

Born July 25, 1917, in Stuttgart, Germany, she was the second child of Marta and Siegfried Hirsch. After the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 made it impossible for Jews like Katie and her brother Helmut (known as Helle) to attend university, the family moved to Prague. It was there that Helle became involved in anti-Nazi activities. Implicated in a plot to bomb Nazi Party headquarters in Nuremberg, he was tried in a secret court and sentenced to death. Katie abandoned her medical studies, devoting herself to saving his life.

Despite the efforts of Ambassador William Dodd and others, Helle was executed in June 1937, which ironically probably saved the lives of Katie and her parents, who were granted special entry to the U.S., arriving in New York in April 1938. Needing to support her heartbroken parents and establish a new life in America, Katie gave up her dream of becoming a doctor and enrolled in the Columbia-Presbyterian School of Nursing, earning BS and RN degrees in 1941. Upon graduation, she worked as a visiting nurse with the Henry Street Settlement, caring for indigent immigrant families on New York's Lower East Side. That same year, she married Dr. Norman Kelman, with whom she had three children: Peter, Barbara (Ravage), and David. She served as founding president of the Karen Horney Clinic, which opened in NYC in 1955 and continues to offer low-cost psychotherapeutic services. The family moved to Westport, Connecticut, in 1956. After her divorce from Norman in 1961, Katie began a new career as a fundraiser, first with the Anti-Defamation League and then with Brandeis University, from which she retired in 1980.

In 1968, she married Harry Sugarman. Katie and Harry had an enduring love and rewarding life filled with international travel, close friendships, and philanthropic activities for such organizations as Brandeis University, the Boca Raton Museum of Art, and The Israel Tennis Centers, a social service organization for children in Israel of all religions and ethnicities. In addition to Harry and her children, Katie is survived by six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two stepsons, Michael and Steve Sugarman.

Katie never forgot Helle and his sacrifice. She was a source of information to writers and filmmakers who wished to tell Helle's story to future generations. Katie herself lived as Helle had urged her in a letter he wrote to his family after he was sentenced to death: "[Katie] shall enjoy threefold what I have missed and she shall always remember that she is living for me too." May she rest in peace, joined in spirit with her parents and her most beloved brother.

A private memorial is planned for a later date. Gifts in Katie's memory may be sent to The Katie and Harry Sugarman Scholarship Fund, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454.
Published on from Sept. 2 to Sept. 3, 2016