Kathleen Mary Walling

July 4, 1953July 9, 2018
Play Tribute Movie

Kathleen M. Walling, 65, of New Britain, CT passed away unexpectedly on July 9, 2018. Born in Newport, RI, she was the daughter of the late Robert M. and Nancy (Murphy) Walling. Kathy is a retired teacher and coach of the West Hartford School System where she taught Physical Education and Health and coached multiple sports programs, including basketball, field hockey and lacrosse. She received numerous awards, including four Hall of Fame Awards: Middletown (R.I.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the New Agenda Northeast Hall of Fame, CHSCA Hall of Fame and Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame. She was also Coach of the Year in field hockey and lacrosse. USFHA Futures Olympic Development coach, CIAC Lacrosse umpire, among others. Kathy loved the sound, smell, and sight of the outdoors. She had a lifelong love of being near the water. She could often be found walking the shoreline of Second Beach or Third Beach, collecting sea glass, walking with Maggie, or paddling in a kayak. While at home, she enjoyed observing birds, flowers, and deer from her deck. She would frequently share photographs of nature with friends and family, sharing the beauty with others and brightening their day. Kathy was an inspirational coach for hundreds of young women and a pioneer for women’s sports in the state of Connecticut. At Hall High School in West Hartford, she started three sports programs (volleyball, girls’ lacrosse, and girls’ golf). Additionally, she was a head coach for basketball, softball, and field hockey. During her tenure as coach, she led six sports through forty eight seasons. She had 140 lacrosse victories, 127 field hockey victories, and 112 basketball victories. In 1977, during her first year coaching, Kathy led her basketball team to be the Class LL state runners up. In both field hockey and lacrosse, her teams made it to the quarterfinals in state playoffs. As head coach of the women’s field hockey team at Hall High School, her team won the CCC West title. Kathy beamed with pride whenever she spoke about her teams to family and friends She is survived and will be dearly missed by her life partner, Linda Dirga of New Britain and all of the Dirga family, her sister, Anne Crawford and her husband Larry of Middletown, RI, her brother, Robert Walling of Middletown, RI. Her niece and nephew, Melissa Crawford and Andrew Crawford and his wife, Maia, two great nephews; Elliott and Julian. She is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends. Memorial gifts in Kathy’s name can be made to the Human Rights Campaign,, 1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20036 or Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame, c/o Babby Nuhn, 31 Benta Lane, Durham, CT, 06422. A time of visitation will be held Friday, July 13, 2018 from 4-7pm at New Britain Memorial Donald D. Sagarino Funeral Home, 444 Farmington Ave., New Britain, CT. Friends are welcome to attend her funeral liturgy on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 11:00AM at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church, 285 Church Str., Hartford, CT. Burial services will be Monday, July 16, 2018 at 11:00am at St. Columba's Catholic Cemetery, Middletown, RI. For directions or online messages, please visit


  • Robert M. Walling, Father
  • Nancy (Murphy) Walling, Mother
  • Linda Dirga, Life Partner
  • Anne and Larry Crawford, Sister
  • Robert Walling, Brother
  • Andrew and Maia Crawford, Nephew
  • Melissa Crawford, Niece
  • She is also survived by two great nephews, Elliott and Julian, many aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends.

  • Andrew Crawford, Active Pallbearer
  • Rick Dirga, Active Pallbearer
  • David Masters, Active Pallbearer
  • Michael Flaherty, Active Pallbearer
  • Raymond Lynch, Active Pallbearer
  • Robert Walling, Active Pallbearer


  • Visitation Friday, July 13, 2018
  • Funeral Liturgy Saturday, July 14, 2018
  • Burial Monday, July 16, 2018

Kathleen Mary Walling

have a memory or condolence to add?

Susan Parra (Sebolt)

July 20, 2018

I will never forget whizzing through the back roads of Storrs with Ms. Walling when she took me to see the UCONN women's basketball team play. This was in the early 80s so coaches were allowed to do this back then! She was actually helping me to see my future. After playing basketball for four years under her tutelage, I was awarded a full scholarship to play at Stanford University. She was fully devoted to working towards helping women's sports advance. I appreciated her humor, her fire and her passion for sports. I can not believe that she is gone. I will carry her memory in my heart and mind, especially as I continue to shoot hoops in my backyard every now and again. Because of women like Kathy Walling, girls have amazing opportunities in all areas of athletics. My heartfelt condolences. - Susan (Sebolt) Parra

Joan Murphy

July 15, 2018

I first met Kathy at Middletown High School, class of '71. We became friends instantly primarily because she would make me laugh, about virtually everything! She had such a fantastic sense of humor and she made high school so much fun. Kathy was Captain of the Middletown High School Cheerleaders. Somehow, I became the "Co-Captain" even though I knew absolutely nothing about sports and/or leadership. Kathy was a natural born athlete. She helped me through so many difficult situations, like doing a split without dislocating 'one's' knee. And she was always there when I needed some advice, or a shoulder to cry on. I am so saddened by the untimely passing of such an amazing person. She accomplished so much! I've got my cheerleading trophy, (the only one I
ever got), and my letter "M" on display, in remembrance of her. I know Kathy is looking down at me now, with a smile, and of course....a cheer, along with a
good belly laugh or two.
We all will miss her dearly.
Joanie Smith Murphy

Ali Campagna

July 13, 2018

Building strong relationships, setting high expectations and providing constant encouragement, Coach Walling had this way of instilling a strong work ethic and good values in her student-athletes that just seemed to come naturally to her. She knew what mattered in this world and everyone that crossed paths with her is better off because of it. I was lucky to have her as a gym teacher, coach, official, and mentor. Most recently she spent time helping at Norfeldt Elementary. It was always a treat to chat with her during a break or have her pop in during a 4th-grade lesson to add her words of wisdom and clever wit. I will cherish these memories. She will continue to be an inspiration.

Kelly O’Donnell Hartzog

July 13, 2018

Coach Walling was our LaCrosse coach during the pioneer years of the sport at Hall High in the ‘80’s. It was years later when I realized how amazing that was. Coach was tough when needed, knowledgeable and encouraging, and had a tremendous passion for sports and coaching. It was a joy to get to interact with her again as my own children had her at King Philip Middle. I’m so saddened by the news of her passing so young. My deepest condolences to Linda and all of her family and friends.

Dave Masters

July 13, 2018

There are few people in my life that have impacted it as K Dub has. Outside of my wife, mother and sisters, she ranks at the top of women in my life that have help chart my path as a father, teacher, coach and as a person.
Kathy was more than a colleague and a friend. She was a mother when I needed it, a sister, a role model...whatever it was I needed at that time, she filled that role. That was one of the best things about her. Her generosity with her time and her ability to give in whatever way was needed.
Kathy was the very first person I met on my first day teaching in West Hartford in 1993. She sat next to me in convocation and stayed at my hip for the next 24 years. Everyday side by side...good days, bad days, whatever days. She gave me space or pulled me tighter when I needed it.
Kathy was at my wedding, my birthdays, one of the first to see my kids who refer to her as "Aunt Kathy". We might have 50 ornaments on our tree that she handmade for each of us and our dogs. She knew everyone in my family and their stories. Kathy was always the one that I would call to seek advice on almost everything. She was an angel to me. She will always be.

Danielle (Melito) Wu

July 13, 2018

I was in the first class that Coach Walling ever taught at King Philip Elementary School (it must have been around 1980). It made a lifelong impression on me to have strong and kind female physical ed teacher as a role model. Later in highschool she was my field hockey coach. I never particularly stood out as an athlete, and yet Coach Walling is one of the teachers I remember most fondly as having such a strong, positive impact in my formative years. I was shocked and saddened to hear that she passed away so suddenly and so young. My heart goes out to her family.

Ro Sullivan

July 12, 2018

To Kathy's family and friends ... "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints in our hearts and we are never ever the same." It was always enjoyable for Fermi to play Hall in hockey and softball because there was a dedicated and fun-loving coach on the opposing sideline. I treasure the memories and am grateful for the footprints in my heart. With special thoughts for each of you at this time and for the days that lay ahead.

Jill Stevenson

July 12, 2018

Kathy knew the importance of participation and dedication in life; bringing an undeniable energy wherever she went.
Our family had the pleasure and honor of sharing time with Kathy and Linda in Maine last summer at our daughter Emily’s wedding. No one danced more, met more people, took more pictures of others or laughed more than Kathy, and of course with Linda right there at her side.
I think of Kathy and can’t help but smile; remembering her energy, the gifts of time and inspiration she gave to others. Being in Kathy’s company was a treasure of joy, full of absolute fun and laughs.

Jill Stevenson

Cheryl Parsons

July 12, 2018

Dear Linda & Family,
Kathy was such a great woman..
I met her thru her friendship with my daughter Dawn..
We enjoyed many conversations through the years and know Kathy will keep an eye on all of us..
Praying for strength to be granted to all of you through this most difficult time..
My Love, Thoughts and Prayers,
Cheryl ❤️😢🙏

Bev Lowden

July 12, 2018

When death touches a fellow coach, grief follows no playbook...COACHES LIKE TO THINK they can prepare for anything — they know how to react. But no one game plans for the sudden, unexpected death of a fellow coach, mentor or friend. There's no playbook, no film-room study that can make it easier.
And now...What moves through us is a silence, a quiet sadness, a longing for one more day, one more word, one more touch. We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget... A beautiful person inside who could light up a room.
We wish Linda Dirga, the Dirga and Walling families peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your heart.

Rest In Peace Kathy...

Our deepest sympathy...
Bev & Dawn