Catherine (Kay) Frances Smith

Catherine (Kay) Smith

Catherine (Kay) Frances Smith was born September 9, 1921 to George Mullins and Catherine Ledwich in Yakima, Washington and died August 24, 2017 in Yakima.

Kay grew up in Yakima, living and working in the family hotels: the Washington, the Montana, and the Michigan. She attended Marylhurst College in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Seattle University in Washington State, and obtained a Master’s of Social Work from the Graduate School of Social Work at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She married Bernard Diamond Smith in 1947 and was widowed in 1951; they had two daughters, Bridget and Molly.

Working as a social worker for Catholic Family and Child Services in Yakima, Kay participated in Operation Peter Pan, an airlift of Cuban children to the United States after the revolution and subsequent takeover by Fidel Castro. She often said that her greatest satisfaction came from her work in adoptions.

Kay moved with her two daughters to Juneau, Alaska in 1968 for money and adventure. She found both. She was the Adoptions Consultant for Alaska as well as the regional manager for social services in Southeast. She traveled all over the state and took a particular interest in assuring that Alaska Native children were adopted by Alaska Native families, a rarity in those days.

After retirement, she operated Mullins House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Juneau with Pat Denny and Sue Glocke for 18 years. She was known for her Dutch Baby pancakes and stimulating conversation. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed hosting parties for friends and family.

Kay loved to travel both nationally and internationally. Her last solo trip at 90 was driving to her granddaughter Sarah’s wedding in Juneau through Canadian customs with her dogs and several cases of wine in tow. Her last trip was to Sitka for her granddaughter Brenna’s wedding in March of this year.

Kay loved the theater and, upon arriving in Juneau in 1968, acted in Hoochinoo and Hotcakes. She eventually acted in 27 plays and worked behind the scenes in countless others at Perseverance Theatre and Juneau-Douglas Little Theater. She served on the Perseverance Theatre Board for many years. She was a wonderful actor and always counted her lines to find out how important each role was. Her favorite roles were in The Importance of Being Earnest, The Greeks, and Island of Tears.

Kay was a devout Catholic and served on the Parish Council of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Juneau.

Kay’s family was central to her. She was proud of Bridget and Molly, and took delight in her two granddaughters, Sarah and Brenna. She loved holidays, with their opportunities for dressing up. With her business partners, she turned the Mullins House B & B into a terrifying and popular Halloween Haunted House that frightened and delighted a whole generation of children in Juneau. On Easter, she dressed as an Easter bunny, leaving eggs for her granddaughters.

Kay loved the outdoors, hiking the trails in Juneau with her dogs. She had a special affinity for animals and during her lifetime, had seven Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and two Russian Wolfhounds. With her friends, she built a cabin on South Douglas, and for a time, had her own fishing boat.

Politically, she had an unwavering belief in social justice and was a strong advocate for the rights of women. She was a Democrat to the core. She taught her daughters to always speak their minds and to never accept a bad seat at a restaurant.

Kay returned to Yakima in 2009 to see, as she put it, “cows and horses instead of bears.” She drove her own car until she was 92.

Kay is survived by daughters Bridget Smith (Jim Asper), Molly Smith (Suzanne Blue Star Boy), and granddaughters Sarah Asper-Smith (Mitch Watley) and Brenna (Keith) Reeder. Olga Vela and Yolie Valdez were her dear caretakers in Yakima. Her husband, her parents, and her brother, George Mullins, preceded her in death.

Kay’s funeral will be held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Yakima on September 12, 2017 at 10 AM; she will be interred with her beloved husband Bernard Smith at Calvary Cemetery in Yakima. A celebration of her life is being planned in Juneau in June 2018. A lifelong Catholic, she asked that any donations in her name be sent to a Catholic Church of the mourner’s choice. Arrangements are by Rainier Memorial Center of Yakima.