HALLOWELL – On the evening of July 26, 2014, shortly after taking supper with friends, Katy’s tired body succumbed to a lingering illness. Her spirit, however, is living strongly in all the persons whom she met during her 93 years.
Catherine Elizabeth Luke was born Sept. 3, 1920 in Millinocket, the daughter of Elizabeth (Bessie) Leet and John Leo Luke. She graduated from Stearns High School in 1938 and from Farmington (Maine) State Normal School (now UMF) in 1941. Following graduation, she taught in the schools of Derby, Millinocket and Whitefield.
Katy married Bernard Elwood Perry on June 19, 1943, just two months before he was inducted into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On his return from the South Pacific at the end of WWII, Katy and Bernie moved to Whitefield, Maine and raised 4 sons. Their ingenuity gave life to the old farm they bought, and the farm in turn provided most of the food the growing family needed. In 1959, they moved to the Togus Veterans’ Administration Center, where Bernie worked. In 1974, the Perrys moved again, this time to a “garden home” in Pittston.
Katy’s childhood was difficult after her father left home in 1928. It was at that time that she and her younger brother, John began to experience the kindness, caring and support of the Millinocket community. She saw her mother, now single and unemployed, blossom into a hard-working and kind-hearted parent who faced life with great equanimity. The small family had little material wealth, but was long on love and satisfaction with their place in life. Lessons learned during the trying times of the 20s and 30s became the core of Katy’s being for the rest of her life. Her Mother’s motto, “Blessed be nothing.” became a hallmark for Katy.
The kindnesses she observed as a child and the graciousness of her own mother made Katy a “people person” for the rest of her life. If everyone has a story, Katy’s goal was to hear (and then write) them all. As occupations along the way, she was a receptionist for the Savage family at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor, Woman’s Editor for radio station WRDO, a public relations specialist for Maine DHS, columnist for several newspapers, a self-published author of 7 books, a candidate for the Maine House, a frequent international traveler, a promoter of the Augusta Symphony and all things musical in the Augusta area, co-owner of Yankee Doodle, a Hallowell folk art store, and a “stop-and-chat” regular on the streets of Hallowell. She liked life best when she drove down an un-named road (often with fellow adventurer and devoted friend Judy Powell) and found something new and different at the end!
After Bernie’s passing in 1981, life became a bit mundane for Katy, so in 1985 she volunteered for the U.S. Peace Corps. Without hesitation, she packed her bag and went off for a 2-year stint working in the governmental communications office in Belize. She said that this experience was a better learning experience than any 4-year college education! The folks she met in that Central American country, both fellow PC members and local citizens, became life-long friends. On her return to the U.S., her children had completed the planned family cottage at Kildare Capes, Prince Edward Island. That camp would be her summer home for the next ten years and her base for meeting many friends and lost family in western PEI.
Katy was predeceased by her parents, Bessie and John and by her husband Bernie. Her surviving family (and spouses) are: brother, John Luke (Phyllis), sons, John (G. Marianne), Peter (Mary Ann), Paul (Catherine) and B. Andrew (Kelly). Her 10 grandchildren (and spouses) are: Heather Perry (Harold Clossey), Ian Perry (Wendy Jorgensen), Kristin Pollock (Aaron), David Perry, Meredith Perry, Luke Perry, Marie Perry (Anthony), Ariel Perry, Kyrie Perry and Jennifer Perry. There are 8 great-grandchildren (with parents): Elliot Pollock (Kristin), Sydney, Rylie and Lucas Perry (Ian), Perry Amos (Heather), Peyton and Kaelyn Walls (Marie) and Jameson Perry (Luke).
Katy will be buried beside Bernie at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Augusta. A simple internment service will be held at the convenience of the family.
Katy worked hard to be an active part of any community in which she lived. She knew most everyone and encouraged them to be better than they thought possible. One of her persistent wishes was that as many of her friends as possible gather after her passing. Yes, she wanted to throw a party!! This event (we’ll call it a Celebration of her Life) will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, 1 p.m., at Maple Hill Farm Inn in Hallowell. Friends of Katy are invited to attend and share stories and good times. More details will be published before the event.
Katy’s family is thankful for the help of the many individuals and organizations who have assisted her through the last year: the Alfond Center for Health, the staff of Granite Hill Estates, Hallowell Family Practice and Dr. Scott Schiff-Slater, MaineGeneral HomeCare and Hospice, and Staples Funeral Home. We also thank the many friends who visited Katy at Granite Hill as she was less able to get out on her own.
Katy was fond of saying she was “the luckiest old lady alive.” Forgetting her discomfits, she always saw the good qualities in visitors and acquaintances. She hoped that other people would follow her leadto look beyond shortcomings and celebrate the greatness in people and places around her. In her memory, her family asks that you show a kindness to someone else, whether through a kind word, a joyful adventure with a friend, a donation to your preferred charity or some other means. The peace and support we can bring to the world around us will be her legacy.