Catherine Louise Florian Caldwell
1953 - 2003
Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother,
Artist, Genealogy Researcher, Librarian,
Advocate for Disability Rights,
Caretaker, Tender & Loving Hearted.
Born and Raised in Washington, Washington County, PA
Nicknames: Cathy, Cathy Lou, Katy Lou
Her Hobbies: In addition to genealogy and disability issues,
Cathy was interested in art, history, and recycling.
Favorite music: Country-Western and Soft-Rock
Favorite Color: Blue
My sister died this year.
I have 4 sisters, and this was the first sibling I had die.
I never imagined the pain I would feel.
We were always close; we were so similar it seemed.
I just found a tiny picture with the older 4 girls taken when I was maybe 5
or 6 years old. Cathy was 4 years older than me. In the picture she is
standing behind me, but has her arm down over my shoulder and I am *clutching*
her hand. I don't remember the time the picture was taken or what I was
thinking. I don't look scared, but I'm clutching her hand tightly. I don't
even remember being that close to her as a kid; After all, I was "a
kid" while she was the "big sister". My three older sisters
were all teenagers together, but I was not part of that group since I was
While I was left out of their teenage-doings, Cathy and I hung out more
once I became a teen. She was there at my high school graduation, knowing that
I'd be hurting since both our parents were deceased and would not be there for
this special day.
I watched her two young children while I was still in high school. When I
had my child, she watched my daughter. My little daughter and I would join
her, her husband and their two children on outings and picnics. Then...my
sister and brother-in-law moved to Texas for 8 years and I didn't see her. I
was busy with nursing school, then working, and she was busy with her family.
Yet, when they moved back, we remained close.
In our adult years, she'd jokingly call me "the pest" when I
would call (since I called her often). Maybe she called me that when I was
little too, but I don't remember.
In the last 15 years we lived in different states and didn't see each other
much at all. Neither of us had extra money for travel and outings.
Through our grandmother we had both been introduced to genealogy and taught
how to do searches. Cathy started helping grandma long before I did, when
Cathy worked at Citizen's Library in Washington, PA during high school. On her
lunch breaks, Cathy would look up whatever grandma had asked her to find. I
became involved after I graduated from nursing school and finally had a little
money, and a car to make trips. My grand pap had just died; I wanted to help
grandma concentrate on something to make her grief less noticeable a few hours
a day. Then both Cathy and I started the genealogy in earnest, hoping to
"give" something to grandma that we knew she enjoyed.
Cathy was a tireless worker in everything. That trait carried over to the
genealogy research. She could spend hours in front of the microfilm reader at
the library, searching for obituaries, funeral notices, and articles. It is a
skill to be able to scan and find names without reading every word -- Cathy
always noticed when one of our surnames was on a newspaper page. Others might
have easily missed many of those names, with bad newspaper print and bad
lighting. She'd also make side trips or day trips, visiting cemeteries,
churches, libraries and genealogical societies. I was by then living in
another state and after I got ill and couldn't travel, she was the only one
who could go out to do research.
All of my sisters and I worked at Citizen's Library when each of us was in
high school. (My oldest sister, Diana, had been the Administrative Secretary
to the head of the Library for many years before his death.) Cathy used all of
the library skills she had learned there to do research, as well as in her
most recent job at T.R.I.P.I.L. (Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living)
on Beau St. in Washington, Pa.
While I had learned to do more research on the computer, Cathy was just
beginning to learn how to use the computer at her job. She got a little
frustrated with me sending emails asking "When you get a chance, could
you check for this record at the courthouse (or that item from the newspaper
microfilm)." There just weren't enough hours sometimes for everything she
wanted to do, along with raising her two special-needs grandchildren. But, in
the time she had, she did so much.
For the year after Cathy died, it was hard for me to do much genealogy or
even look at the book I was doing with my grandmother and Cathy. With my
grandmother's death in 2000, and then Cathy's death in 2003, I have been the
only one continuing to work on the 2nd book we started. I inherited their
genealogy papers and it was even hard to see their handwriting. I know I will
eventually find comfort in the hobby I shared with them, but I will always
miss my grandma and my sister.
Cathy's death was unexpected, from a massive heart attack. Her husband was
with her when she died.
Cathy was buried at Prosperity Cemetery, Morris Twp., Greene Co., PA on one
of its hillsides overlooking the village of Prosperity. Her funeral was held
at Warco-Falvo Funeral Home, Washington, PA. The funeral director told her
husband that about 500 people had stopped by during visitation hours and
throughout each day she was there. She knew a lot of people. I wish she had
realized while she was alive just how many people had cared about her!
Poems Written by Cathy's Sisters
and Read at Cathy's Funeral
Mom and Dad had five girls
Who all liked petticoats and curls
Except for you, Catherine Louise
You were a tomboy and did as you pleased.
You were different, you stood out
From your hair and eyes to your annoying pout
You weren't like the "other Florian girls"
You didn't like those petticoats and curls.
You liked spiders, and bugs and climbing trees
And you'd bite your nails until they'd bleed
When Mom called you her blonde bomb shell
You'd get mad, pout, stomp your feet and yell.
As teenagers we did things as one
Like learning to drive, dating and having fun
We shared secrets, disappointments and dreams
And found life isn't always what it seems.
We'd comfort each other as sisters will
When things went wrong and we'd had our fill
Yet we'd argue over clothes, boys and shoes
Because that's how sisters act, it's what sisters do.
And as we got older and grew away
We'd keep in touch, though not every day
We could count on you for all the news
Of who's getting married, taken ill, or away on a cruise.
You never had much cause you'd give it away
To others with less and make their day
You always took the time to care
And did things we four wouldn't dare.
Because you were different it must have seemed strange
To see everyone else's lives so arranged
Perhaps that's why you did your best
To look out for others and put their fears to rest.
You taught us a lot, sister, Cathy Lou
You with your blonde hair and eyes of blue
Though you may have felt shunned and lost
You saw the good in others, no matter the cost.
You were the lucky one, you who stood out
You who understood what love is all about
It's caring and sharing and giving your all
And not giving up when you stumble and fall.
As we all gather to say our good byes
We need to cheer up and dry our eyes
For you're the one who's finally won
Yes, dear sister, He'll say a job well done.
By Colleen English, sister. Copyright 2003.
Used with permission.
Do not copy without written permission of the Author.
Did they know my sister?
Will they remember her?
When she sought their help
To them she was just a blur....
With crosses on the steeples
And people in the pews
They wouldn't let her enter
Her talents they couldn't use.
Let me tell you about my sister
Let me tell you of her battles fought
Let me tell you of her passionate spirit
Let me tell you now what she sought.
Her tender heart was open
Her arms reached to embrace
To her, it didn't matter what clothes you had
Or what you looked like in your face.
She knew first-hand the rejection
Of hearts unwilling to love and accept
She knew the pain of being an outcast
And how bad it felt to be side-stepped.
She was avenger of the needy
Protector of little ones who could not fight
She held a vision of fairness and justice
She tried SO hard to put things RIGHT.
Every morn' brought another struggle
From offices that controlled pure survival
Every eve' brought restless worry and tears
Would THIS battle be won, WAS SHE ABLE?
There were years of like battles, years of striving...
One hurdle she would meet - Joyous! Hooray!
But within a few days it was replaced
With another, and another! Total dismay!
She'd take a deep breath, and an iron will,
and with ingenious thought and unyielding drive
She'd plan and figure and scrape and design
To find ways she and her family would stay alive.
Fighting for survival was never her dream
She had wanted to be an artist
She would have made a good teacher too
But to all life's struggles she had to adjust.
She wanted to make a beautiful creation
And I wonder how many ever realized
That all her skills came from a loving passion
And her tenacity and gifts were a prize.
My sister never felt very loved or wanted
But I need her and love her so much
I wish she was here with me today --
I valued her, and her love and hugs and touch.
Let me tell you about my sister
Cathy was never a blur to me
She loved with a heart felt passion
How glad I am her struggles are over
I am so happy her spirit is now free.
By Judy Florian, sister. Copyright 2003.
Do not copy without written permission of the Author.
Our mother always said that Cathy reminded her of the Madonna and Child.
This statue on Route 40 is a memorial to all the pioneer mothers who sustained
the lives of their children. Although not a pioneer mother, Cathy
displayed the same loving protection and fortitude in her life.
||" 'Madonna of the Trail' monument is one of twelve
memorials "to the pioneers mothers of the covered wagon days"
erected by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The statue is ten feet high, weighs five tons, and has a six-foot-high base
weighing twelve tons. This was the tenth to be unveiled (on December 8, 1929)
and is the only one in Pennsylvania. It depicts a pioneer woman with a baby in
her arms and a boy clutching her skirt. It is located on Route 40 in
Beallsville, PA. - Quoted from http://www.historictowns.com/nat-road.htm
Tribute to Ruth Lane McGary.
(Wish I could give credit to the person who
made this picture, but no credits were given.)
(c) Judith Ann Florian
159 E. Main St.
Girard, Ohio 44420
Copyright Notice - Data / info. for individuals and surnames may be
reproduced for personal family histories only, but not for any commercial use or
sale. Please give credit to Judith Florian and Catherine L. Caldwell for
locating newspaper items and original documents. You may use J. Florian's
research conclusions if credit is given. No other data or images may be
reproduced without permission. © 2005-present, Judith Florian, Copyright All
This page was last updated on Thursday, June 25, 2009 14:29
|The background was chosen specifically to
emphasize the matriarchal role of women in "the life" of
children and families, and the resilience of all the women of