Catherine Houston Umstattd
September 29, 1922 – July 9, 2020
Catherine Houston “Sugar” Umstattd passed away in Austin, Texas on July 9, 2020 at the age of 97. Born in her childhood home in the Bremond Block Historic District in Austin on September 29, 1922, she was the daughter of Hale Matthew Houston and Hallie Robertson Bremond Houston, and the great-granddaughter of John Bremond, who established a mercantile business in Austin in 1847 and was the principal founder of the Austin Fire Department. She also was second cousin twice removed of General Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas.
She was predeceased by her parents, her husband James McNutt “Mac” Umstattd, her son Robert McNutt Umstattd, and by her sister Hallie Bremond Houston Burns and brother William Bremond Houston, Sr. She is survived by her daughter Catherine “Kay” (Dr. William R.) Smith of Austin and their son Preston (Christiana) Smith of Weatherford, Texas, as well as by her son Hale Bremond (Shannon) Umstattd and their children Reid (Jena) Umstattd of Austin, Shelby (Ben) Barnes of Los Angeles, Leigh (Chris) Weyand of Austin, Courtney (Nick) Quintana of Dallas, and eight great-grandchildren.
Catherine graduated from Austin High School and attended Mount Vernon College in Washington, D.C. Afterwards she returned to Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She and Mac met at UT and married in January 1945, soon after his return from service in World War II. Bishop of the Diocese of Texas Clinton S. Quin married them at Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. A few years after they married, they were among the founding members of The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin’s Tarrytown neighborhood, where she served for many years as a member of the Altar Guild and other church groups.
She served on the board of Child and Family Services, Inc., of Austin, a licensed and locally funded agency set up to assist troubled families and their children through financial assistance, foster home placement, and adoption services. She served as an officer and member of the executive board of the Austin Junior League, where she oversaw Children’s Theater. She was a charter member of the Seton Development Board and remained active for many years. Catherine and Mac were also founding members of Windmill Hill on Lake Travis and Tarry House in Austin.
In 1966 she joined The Settlement Club of Austin, the women’s organization that owns and operates The Settlement Home for Children, an Austin residential treatment and group home facility for troubled teenagers. Her second cousin, Anne Bremond, had been one of the dozen young women who in 1917 founded The Settlement Club, so Catherine’s forty years of volunteer work and fund-raising in support of The Settlement Home had special meaning to her.
She was a lady in every sense of the word. Many will remember her for always dressing to the nines with purse in hand, and for her impeccable punctuality and readiness for the next task. She weathered the storms of life with courage and grace, never dwelling on the past and invariably looking ahead. Traditions were important to her, and she carried on her mother’s weekly ritual of hosting family for Sunday lunch. Cheese balls and bottled Cokes were part of the welcome and are deeply embedded memories. She was a great cook with a reputation for a mean meatloaf, burned tomatoes, cabbage with ketchup, and chicken and rice casserole. It brings a smile to remember everyone seated at the dining room table with their napkins in their laps waiting for her to pick up her fork.
Her husband Mac was a championship athlete and lifetime runner who inspired Sugar to exercise regularly. Early morning laps at Barton Springs pool were standard for her, and when not swimming she walked Camp Mabry or the neighborhood loop with her transistor radio as she logged her 20,000 miles! Later in life when she moved into a senior care facility she wore down the carpet while walking the halls daily. Catherine and Mac were loyal Longhorn fans who followed football, baseball, and track closely. Travel was another love they shared. In keeping with her family’s fondness for culture south of the border, they enjoyed many trips to the mountains of Mexico.
Catherine lived a long life and witnessed a lot of history, and for that her family is grateful. She will be missed, but her legacy of commitment to family, church, and community will continue through her family and friends for generations to come.
Services are private.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute in her memory to The Settlement Home for Children, 1600 Payton Gin Road, Austin, TX 78758, https://www.settlementhome.org, The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, TX 78703, http://gsaustin.org, or the charity of one’s own choice.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Catherine Houston Umstattd
July 14, 2020
Kay and Hale - I’m relishing many sweet memories of fun times with your Mother, Father and Brother, in your home, at Windmill Hill, Barton Springs and Memorial Stadium, among many others. Sugar was a class act and I always appreciated her gracefulness. She was ever kind and generous to me.
Much love, Paul Teten
Becky B Lindsay-Terrell
July 13, 2020
Kay - Your Mother was such a lovely lady. She and my mother grew up together and were good friends. My heart goes out to you. Love, Becky B
July 10, 2020
Dearest Kay, Hale & Ummy Family:
We love you Sug and we send our blessings & love to all of you.
Becky, Morin & Catherine Scott