February 23, 1921 – January 13, 2020
Catherine Anne Schwalenstocker passed away peacefully on January 13, 2020, at the age of 98, surrounded by her loving family.
Catherine, also known as Katie, Kay, Mom, Ma, Mommy, Grandma, Great-Grandma, and Mrs. Henry, was the kind of mother who always had soup bubbling on the stove, flour on her apron, and cookies in the oven. The kind with nerves of steel and a foot of lead, who could teach seven kids how to drive a stick-shift and could get an injured neighborhood child and his panicking mother from the suburbs to the ER faster than any ambulance. The kind who positively beamed when holding her babies, her grandbabies, her great-grandbabies—really, any babies.The kind with an ability to find humor in things that didn’t go as planned and to find joy in things that made others happy.
Kay was born to Thomas and Anna (Clarkin) O’Brien on February 23, 1921, in Madrid, NY. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Potsdam State Teachers College in June 1943 — a degree she put to good use as a substitute teacher, Girl Scout leader, and catechism instructor. While in college she met the love of her life, Henry “Hank” Schwalenstocker. She married him the month after graduating and immediately moved with him to Rochester, NY.
A lifelong altruist, Kay got involved in every community she was a part of. In Rochester she was a dedicated volunteer for the Red Cross, the Arthritis Foundation, the local PBS station, Irondequoit community library, Rochester Theater Organ Society, St. Louis Catholic Church, and the Rochester school system, to name just a few of her causes. She also was a leader in the Genesee Girl Scout Council and Pittsford PTA. After retiring to Saranac Lake, NY, she volunteered weekly at the Adirondack Medical Center, joined the Village Improvement Society, helped manage the annual village antiques show and sale to benefit the hospital auxiliary, and was instrumental in starting the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Over the course of their 76-year marriage, Kay and Hank created a family bound together by mutual appreciation, love, and humor. Kay welcomed friends, partners, in-laws, and stepkids into the family with open arms. She loved family gatherings of any size and was always ready to laugh over shared stories or card games. She expressed her love through baked goods, keeping her giant-size Tupperware container filled with at least two varieties of homemade cookies and patiently teaching her kids and grandkids the family recipes and how to interpret directions such as “cook until done” and “stir until it looks right.”
Kay was always game to try new things, whether learning to cook for nine over an open campfire, touring all 50 states and several other countries, or overcoming her fear of water to become a seasoned swimmer and paddler. Kay loved to be surrounded by her family, and her family—all seven kids and her beloved husband, Hank—were there to see her off on her final adventure.
Kay will be sorely missed and lovingly remembered by Hank and their children Anne (Jim) Klijanowicz, Tom (Gee), George (Julia), Ellen (Charlie Perdue), Dave (Kelly), Nancy (Duane Booher) Rowe, and Martha (Joe) Kile, as well as by their grandchildren Amy (Troy) Campbell, Daniel and Katarina Schwalenstocker, Emily and Annika Kile, Katherine (Eric) Kaye, and Elizabeth (Steve) Skordinski, and their seven great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg, VA, https://williamsburghospice.org/donate/, or to the charity of your choice.
- Service Wednesday, January 15, 2020