Katherine V. Levine
March 8, 1938 – April 7, 2018
KATHERINE “KITTY” V. LEVINE, 80, passed away Friday, April 6, 2018, at home and surrounded by family. Born in San Antonio and raised in the Texas hill country of Kerrville, Kitty was encouraged by her parents, the late Henry Joseph Vann and Mary Tyrrell Vann, to travel and see the world.
Kitty majored in English at University of St. Thomas in Houston, graduating with a B.A. in 1959. She spent summers in college in New York City, living with her older sister, the late Miriam Katuna, and working as a secretary at RCA in Rockefeller Center.
After college, and still eager to see more of the world, Kitty applied to join the US Foreign Service. After several months’ training in Washington DC, she was sent to Paris. That’s where she met her husband of 54 years, Melvin Levine, a promising young diplomat also working at the US embassy.
On their first date, in April 1961, they took a drive to a restaurant outside of Paris and learned on the radio that forces led by four retired French generals were attempting to seize Paris and overthrow President Charles de Gaulle. They traveled back to the city through numerous military checkpoints, unsure of the danger they were driving towards. All in all, it was quite a first date.
They married in Saigon in 1964, where Mel was posted. Being a diplomat’s wife was a job in itself and Kitty embraced the role, volunteering with the local Vietnamese, hosting dinner parties, and learning local languages, becoming fluent in French and Italian.
Kitty and Mel also lived in Rome, Taiwan and South Korea, with a stint in Washington DC where their three children were born. They moved to Mel’s hometown of New Bedford in 1981 when he retired from the Foreign Service.
They bought one of New Bedford’s historic and somewhat neglected old homes. And while her husband was fairly hopeless with a wrench, Kitty was both skilled at home repairs and had an artist’s eye. She completely remodeled and redecorated the place, room by room. She also enjoyed mind-bending crossword puzzles, French cooking and boring British murder mysteries. She never lost her love of adventure, visiting places like Peru, Austria and China with family and friends well into her 70s.
Kitty’s faith was at the center of her life. She was a lifelong Catholic and served as a Eucharistic minister at St. Julie’s in Dartmouth.
She demonstrated her faith quietly, living it through example. When Kitty returned to Kerrville for her 35th high school reunion, her classmates organized a presentation recounting memories of Kitty. One such story was how, during a rowdy high school football game, head cheerleader Kitty turned around to her team’s own fans and admonished them, “Now, be nice!”
An intensely private person, she was adored by her husband and children, and she charmed most people who crossed her path. Those who knew her best knew she was impossibly good at everything. She will be remembered for her warmth of spirit, her razor sharp mind, her ageless beauty and her devotion to her family.
Her passing comes less than three weeks after Mel’s and it is hoped they are now together again, as they should be.
Kitty is survived by her son Tyrrell Levine and wife Kiro; daughter Kara Leibel; son Brian Levine and wife Jane; sister Margaret Vann; and grandchildren Timmy Wang and Kayla Levine.
A funeral mass will be held Thursday, April 12 at 10:00 AM at St. Julie Billiart Parish, 494 Slocum Rd, Dartmouth with burial following in Rural Cemetery, New Bedford. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, April 11, from 5 to 7 pm at Waring-Sullivan Home at Dartmouth, 230 Russells Mills Rd, Dartmouth. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to Catholic Relief Services. For online tributes: www.waring-sullivan.com
- The late Henry Joseph Vann, Father
- The late Mary (Tyrrell) Vann, Mother
- The late Melvin H. Levine, Husband
- Tyrrell Levine & wife Kiro, Son
- Kara Leibel, Daughter
- Brian Levine & wife Jane, Son
- Margaret Vann, Sister
- Timmy Wang, Grandson
- Kayla Levine, Granddaughter
- She was also the sister of the late Miriam Vann Katuna.
- Visitation Wednesday, April 11, 2018
- Funeral Mass Thursday, April 12, 2018