It’s an amazing thing to lose a loved one at the age of 101 and feel that it was too soon, it’s a testament to who Catherine Jane Day was and how she lived, that a void is perceptible in our world now that she’s gone. Her presence was so steady, her love was such a constant, her being was anchored so firmly, that she brought to mind the deeply rooted, bloomed out, wholesome apple trees which she grew and tended all her life; beautiful, fruitful, humble and generous. She was truly content and fulfilled by her family, her faith, and her love of all growing things. We were incredibly fortunate to have her as the matriarch of our family. Catherine passed away on May 8th, 2022.
Catherine was born in Minot, North Dakota on September 18, 1920 to her parents Mary Jane McLachlan Huber and Orpha True Huber. The eldest child of eight, early on she learned the necessity of working hard and felt the pull of maternal instincts as she helped care for her seven younger siblings. Agriculture and family were in her blood and her earliest childhood memories were of working in the fields with her parents as a tiny tot, and of watching her uncles play their bagpipes on their farm. As a young teenager, the Great Depression and Dust Bowl pushed her family away from their homeland and they looked west for hope of a better life. They drove across the country all piled into one car, until they came to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where they found work picking fruit crops, and began to put down roots.
Catherine met her husband and partner for life, Louis William Day, when she was sixteen years old and they were married soon thereafter. They honeymooned in Portland, welcomed their first child Patricia in Salem and their first son William in Lebanon, and later moved north to Washington State where they eventually settled in the foothills of Mount Rainier on the shores of Lake Tapps. It was a sparsely populated community at that time and it gave their growing family space to spread out. They built their home there and throughout the 1940’s & 1950’s they went on to bear and raise five more children; Carole, Robert, James, Charles, and David. During this time Catherine aided in the financial support of the family by owning and operating a fruit stand, while she provided a loving, humble and healthy upbringing for her kids. Their life wasn’t fancy or extravagant, but everyone had full bellies, a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs - they eventually even got indoor plumbing! For Catherine that was all a person really needed in terms of material things. Her yard always had apple and cherry trees bearing fruit, a grape vine that was abundant in the fall, and a large vegetable garden bordered by marigolds to keep the slugs away. Her lawn was encircled by dahlias, irises, gladiolas, roses, and all other manner of bright blooming things, with a fragrant purple clematis vine blooming near the front door of the house. Her home also always had kids running around and playing in it - first her children, then their children, and finally her grandchildren’s kids and grandkids.
In 1962 Catherine and Louis welcomed their last child, Bradley and then in 1965 lost their son Robert to a tragic auto accident. Bradley provided Catherine with an opportunity to rise and excel in the face of a new challenge, when he was born unique from her other children, carrying the extra chromosome of Down’s Syndrome. Catherine loved Bradley all the more for everything that made him his unique self. She was her most gentle, most understanding and was infinite in her patience with him. She found through her love of her son that she had a tender place in her heart for others with the condition, and people with Down’s were always special to her. For a time she worked at a school for the disabled in a nearby town, in a desire to understand Bradley better and to help others that shared his condition.
In 1969 Catherine dedicated her life to her faith with her baptism as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Through the Jehovah’s Witness beliefs she found a hope and a focus for the future; that one day her son Bradley would live a healed life, and that one day she would see her lost son Bobby again. In her faith she found a creator she could relate to, one who loved to create growing beauty the way she did and who had extra affection for the fragile. She also found a community in the Witnesses who cared about her and understood and nurtured her faith. She actively attended meetings and participated in preaching work and felt a bond to those who shared her faith. Catherine always had a picture of the future paradise taped to her refrigerator in the kitchen, a reminder of things to come. She was faithful to her dedication for the whole of her days.
Catherine became a Grandmother nineteen times, a Great Grandmother thirty-nine times, and a Great Great Grandmother sixteen times, in addition she gained many sons and daughters and grandchildren through the marriages of her offspring - and she treated them all like hers. She was great about loving and supporting all of her family - poignantly demonstrating the infinite capacity of a person’s heart to love and show loyalty. Catherine and Louis celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1986, surrounded by their expanding family. Three years later her beloved Louis passed away, and Catherine found comfort in her family and her faith. She loved her Grandchildren deeply and was always sweet, kind, and active in their lives, and she also would let them know when she thought they could straighten things up a bit too. When one of them needed extra help or attention, or was struggling with something in their lives, she was quick to come to their aid and do whatever she could in making it better. She was a fun Grandma, active and in good physical shape and a little feisty until well into her nineties. She would take the kids down to the lake for a swim, or push them on a swing, or let them help her in her garden teaching them her secret green thumb ways and passing along the love and fascination she had. In the evenings she and her grandchildren would watch Mariner baseball games on the couch or play along with television trivia gameshows; her mind and memory were bright, intelligent and quick and she generally knew the answer before anyone else. As she became older she would often pull out all of her family photos and talk about each person in the image and reminisce about them, or the setting, or what was happening at that time. Through these stories that she loved to share she was able to paint a vivid impression of her long life and her large family.
In early 2019 she was asked what would make her happiest at this point in her life; she would be turning 99 later that September and time was beginning to feel limited. She answered that she wanted to have her whole family together in one spot - it was implied that it was probably the one last time. So those who were able came together and organized a family party for her, to celebrate her and love on her all together as a group. It meant the world to her to see all of her family together in one place. A few months later Covid broke out and limited the ability to be together, and then her health began to deteriorate not long after; she had lost her baby Bradley a couple years prior and her daughter Patricia in 2021 and she herself was beginning to fade as well. She gradually ran out of strength and passed away on May 8, 2022 - after a long, rewarding, challenging life surrounded by people who loved her. We love, miss and celebrate you Catherine, you were amazing.
Catherine was preceded in death by her parents Orpha and Mary Jane, her husband Louis, her children Robert, Bradley and Patricia, and her siblings Leona, Lois, Louie, Bob, Dick, JR and great great granddaughter baby Olivia.
She is survived by her sister Phyllis, her children; William (Wife Kathy), Carole, James, Charles (Wife Donna) and David (Wife Cindy). Her grandchildren; Chris, Brett, Patrick, Jon, Kurt, Teri, Darrin, Barry, Tarra, Denise, Danacia, Brianne, Micah, Aubrey, David, Jeffrey, Kendall, Gaven, Jennaya. Her great grandchildren; Ryan, Neil, Austin, Dylan, Jasmine, Isabella, Courtney, Lindsey, Kyle, Jerred, Tyeler, Chelsea, Kellen, Andrew, Codie, Will, Kimberly, Katherine, Brendan, Stephanie, Bailey, Justin, Conner, Khari, Jaelin, Joshua, Jourdan, Luke, Bella, Claire, Colton, Viggo, Logan, Isabelle, Jayden, Kaylina, Hadlee, Jeriah, Adaya. Her great-great grandchildren; Emelia, Katelynn, Hadley, Ellie, Evy, Liv, Dailey, Jordan, Callum, Quin, Eilee, Parker, Liam, Abby, Riley.