Catherine Jane Holway Thom Kelley (Kate) of Youngstown, Ohio, was born on Aug. 26, 1920, and died August 17, 2015 - nine days before her 95th birthday. She was the daughter of the late Robert Givens Holway and Marie Kane. She recently resided in Columbus, Mont.
She graduated from Rayen High School in 1938 and received her Registered Nursing Diploma from St. Elizabeth Hospital School in 1941 in Youngstown, Ohio. She received a BA in Psychology and Social Welfare from Seton Hill College in 1976 in Greensburg, Pa., her home for many years.
During World War II, Kate was a commissioned naval officer and served as a registered nurse on Paris Island, S.C., attending wounded marines.
Kate married Leonard Thom on June 1, 1944. He was executive officer of the PT109 under Commander John F. Kennedy. After the war, Lenny Thom was killed in a tragic train-car collision Oct. 8, 1946.
They had two children. As Lenny Thom had been instrumental in rescuing his men at war, the survivors of the PT 109 repaid Lenny’s heroism and friendship by serving as his pall bearers. Kennedy, a close friend, persuaded Kate to continue her college education at Catholic University in D.C. after giving birth to a daughter on Dec. 31, 1946.
During a visit to Jack’s father, Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Kate noticed the man who would become her future husband, Jay Hilary Kelley (Hil), coming out of his father’s office, Congressman Augustine Bernard Kelley of Southwestern Pennsylvania. After being set up on a blind date by Kate’s sister, Joyce, they were married May 10, 1949, after a 3-month long whirlwind romance.
After Kate supported the campaign for his presidency, Kennedy invited Kate and Hil to join him in Washington, D.C., where Hil worked on his science staff.
Upon leaving Washington, D.C., Kate pursued both higher education and career, contributing to the improvement of health care in her adopted states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. She sat as Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for Somerset State Hospital, Somerset, Pa.; organized and taught nurses aide and LPN classes in Morgantown, W. Va.; and authored the original Home Health Care program for Western Pennsylvania. She was a member of the Board of Directors of many programs, Advisory Committees and task forces. Her work included: Director of Home Health Care, Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg, Pa.; Supervisor at Clara Burke Nursing Home; and Administrative Supervisor at both Roxborough Memorial Hospital and University of Pennsylvania Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.
Kate was a scholar and theologian who loved her children and grandchildren beyond all measure. She was a great role model for education, work ethic and spirituality.
She was a member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensburg, Pa.; The Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.; Westmoreland Polo Club, Greensburg, Pa.; and the Pike Run Country Club, Donegal, Pa., She was a card-carrying member of the American Legion and VFW.
Kate is preceded in death by husband Hilary, son Hilary Gerard and daughter Christine Thom Kelley, grandson Kane Russell, brothers Robert, Richard and James Holway; and sisters Joyce Allsworth, Marie Scott and Leonard Thom.
She is survived by brother John Holway, Atlanta; and sister Peg Yeager, Dallas; sons Leonard (Laura), Eagle River, Ark.; and Patrick (Stacy Herman), Los Angeles, Calif.; daughters Catherine Nutter (Tom), Kingwood, W. Va.; Mary, Nevis, West Indies; Joyce Ann (Tim Russell), Columbus, Mont.; Michele (Pius Schenker), Columbus, Mont.; Sheila (Richard Schiff), Los Angeles, Calif.; and daughter-in-law Cindy Kelley, Phillipi, W. Va. Kate is survived by her BFFs, 16 grandchildren, Michaela and Chris Canterbury, Kaylen and Kyle Anderson-Kelley, Hilary and Marc Findo, Michael Nutter, Khellar Crawford, Isaac and Nieshia Crawford, Nolan and Jennifer Kelley, Lenny and Katie Kelley, Justyna and Sara Kelley, Sean and Teryl Russell, Seth and Chloe Russell, Gus and Ruby Schiff, and five great-grandchildren, many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.
The family wishes to thank all Kate’s hospice and home health care friends.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelations
In lieu of flowers please provide assistance to:
Leonard J Thom Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o Sandusky Board of Education
407 Decatur St.
Sandusky, OH 44870
Or the Kane Russell Memorial Scholarship
P. O. Box 261
Columbus, MT 59019
A Wake Service was held Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, at Catherine’s home, 26 Eerie Drive, 1.5 miles south of Columbus.
There will be a “Celebration of Life” in Greensburg, Pa. at a later date.