Kathryn Hyer

December 4, 1953January 1, 2021
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Kathryn Hyer December 4, 1953 – January 1, 2021 Tampa Palms, Florida

Kathryn “Kathy” Hyer, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter, cousin, friend, professor, and a devout believer of God, passed away on January 1, 2021 at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer.

Kathy was born in Sands Point, New York to Teresa and Raymond Hyer, the fifth of their six children. Kathy met Jim Soley, the love of her life and her husband of 39 years, at a high school debate tournament in Long Island in 1969, a fitting meet-appropriate given their frequent Lincoln-Douglas style marital debates during their nearly 40-year union (which Kathy always won).

Kathy and Jim's love story started in New York and continued in Phoenix, Arizona; Manhasset, New York; and Tampa, Florida. Soon after they wed in 1981, they expanded their family to include children Elizabeth and James, who’ve gone on to make them proud in-laws (John and Shannon) and grandparents (Lucy and Mary). She was kind, strong, funny, driven, and loving, and her life with Jim was filled with travel, family, and friends.

Kathy was a champion for older adults and centered her research and advocacy on providing proper healthcare and crisis response measures for this vulnerable group. She was both a professor and associate director at the School of Aging Studies at University of South Florida as well as the Director of its Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging. Her work there focused on the quality of care in long-term care settings, disaster preparedness, curriculum development, and educational evaluation.

Kathy also served as president of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. As a recognized expert in the field, Kathy served on, and provided expert advice and testimony to, numerous federal, state, and local committees. A career highlight was testifying to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging about disaster preparedness in nursing care facilities in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. At the time of her death, she was serving on the Florida Gold Seal Panel of the Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care.

The mentoring relationships Kathy formed with countless students over the years brought her immense pride and satisfaction. These students will carry on her academic legacy.

Kathy received her undergraduate degree in economics and sociology from Boston College, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and subsequently earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a doctorate in Public Administration from Arizona State University.

Kathy is predeceased by her mother, father, and sister Jane. Kathy is survived by her husband James Soley; daughter Elizabeth Frederick (Dr. John Frederick) of Charlotte, North Carolina; son James Hyer Soley (Shannon Dulaney) of Brooklyn, New York; and granddaughters Lucille and Mary Frederick of Charlotte, North Carolina. She is also survived by her brother Raymond (Kathleen) of Belleair Shores, Florida, and three of her sisters: Therese Reich (Heio) of Lutz, Florida; Mary Claire Shuman (Barry) of New Tampa, Florida; and Marlene Kern (John) of Seminole, Florida; as well as many nephews, nieces, and cousins.

Funeral services will be private. A memorial service in her honor will be held at a later date when it is safe to do so. In Lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation or the Gerontological Society of America.


  • Visitation

    Thursday, January 14, 2021


Kathryn Hyer

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Cathy Lieblich

January 14, 2021

I am so very saddened by the passing of Dr. Kathy Hyer. We got to know each other when I was Director of Florida Pioneer Network (FPN). Kathy served on the FPN Steering Committee from 2009-2017, working to change the culture of care and support for elders in Florida and the U.S. She made incredibly valuable contributions to the work of FPN and became a friend as well. Dr. Hyer was a researcher, teacher, advocate, and an inspiration to her colleagues and students and will be sorely missed by so many, especially her beloved family. My heartfelt condolences to all of you.

Nick Castle

January 12, 2021

Like many others, I was deeply saddened by this news. I have known Kathy most of my career. We were colleagues, co-authors, and best of all - friends. I always enjoyed our time together. I will miss you. My best wishes go to your family.

Jill Starr

January 11, 2021

It is with great sadness that I learned of the recent death of Professor Katheryn Hyer. She was a leader in the School of Aging Studies who will always be remembered. She was brilliant, kind-hearted, had a good sense of humor, and enjoyed sharing sweet moments with her husband and her grandchildren. I remind myself how honored I am to of had the opportunity to be one of her students and to work under her as an advisor for the USF Chapter of ACHCA. Her impact on the field of gerontology will continue to be felt for many years. As a lasting legacy, I can think of no better tribute for her research and her care of the elderly.

Please let me express my deepest sympathy and prayers to the family.

Thomas J Fairchild

January 11, 2021

Kathy was a woman of passion and caring who was full of energy. Her love for older adults and her desire to better prepare students and professionals to serve older adults never wavered. God will treat her well. May she rest in peace.

Pamela Stobaugh

January 11, 2021

Dear Hyer Family,

I am so sorry for your loss. I worked with Kathy for years at the University of South Florida. She was kind and funny and always up for any event to celebrate someone else. She was so dedicated and worked tirelessly helping the elderly everywhere. She also mentored so many students, which she loved doing. Liz and Jay: Having children approximately the same age we sometimes talked about them. She was so proud of you both and really happy to become a grandma. She will be remembered by the many, many people whose lives she touched.

Michael, Allyson, Caiden, Keane, Donovan Hyer

January 10, 2021

Aunt Kathy is forever in our hearts with her radiant smile~warm, loving, kind, caring ~ while gracing our favorite family memories with her laughter, intelligence & sincere love for all 🤍Mike, Allyson, Caiden, Keane & Donny

Robin Bleier

January 8, 2021

Kathy Hyer was truly a unique person. She had such a thirst for life and helping others!
Kathy was a well balanced person, between her family, faith, and work. She often spoke of Jim and her children as her core.
I am grateful to Kathy for many reasons. Her commitment to long term care and focus on emergency management brought about great things. Our profession and all of those we work with and provide care for gained such an amazing advocate through Kathy. She brought us to people and places we might not have ever been to able to achieve through her writing, testimonials, and educational out reaches.
Kathy listened, asked questions, brought new ideas yet also worked to meet those of us where we were to support and improve our processes and systems to care for frail elders. Kathy did all of this with grace, and the utmost of professionalism.
Thank you Kathy, I am grateful to and for you. I will miss you and your amazing smile.

Patti Swager

January 7, 2021

I appreciated Kathy's smile and enthusiasm as well as her passion and commitment to the field of aging. She was a bright light. I always enjoyed seeing her and spending time with her during national meetings in the field of aging.

May you be comforted knowing that Kathy was loved by many and that her friends will always have fond memories of their times with her.

Bella Amankwaa Outerbridge

January 7, 2021

Dr Hyer was one of the best professors I had in graduate school back in 2007. She always had high energy and loved older adults. I always think of her in difficult multidisciplinary staffings. She will be truly missed.

Stacy Barnes

January 7, 2021

Kathy was a stalwart of the GEC's and GWEP's. She was passionate about geriatric education and her absence will be felt for many years to come. Rest in peace Kathy.