Katherine Johnson Steffey passed away peacefully after a brief illness on February 23, 2019, surrounded by family and song. She was 48 years old. Katherine Steffey was born in Cincinnati, OH, on October 24, 1970, the first of four children of Stewart Horner Steffey, Jr. and Elizabeth Roby Steffey. Born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, Katherine never let her limitations define or diminish her passions or her ability to express love. Katherine’s life was characterized by struggle and triumph and a powerful will to find peace.
Katherine was a member of many special learning communities throughout her life that nurtured her independence, imagination, and sense of purpose. In childhood and adolescence, Katherine attended Matheny School in Peapack, NJ, and the Melmark School in Berwyn, PA. From the age of eighteen until her early forties, Katherine was a community member at three Camphill Communities: Camphill Soltane in Glenmoore, PA; Triform Camphill Community in Hudson, NY; and Camphill Village Copake in Copake, NY. Camphill Communities support men and women with developmental disabilities through a combination of community life, the arts, and farm work – the education of head, heart, and hands. Katherine flourished as a Camphill family member. She particularly enjoyed her years as a master weaver, often making gifts of her colorful creations.
In 2013 Katherine returned home and two years later joined a group home in Foxboro, MA. Her family was thrilled to have her nearby. The highlights of this chapter in her life were her daily visits to the Horace Mann Educational Associates center in which she did therapy, music, dance, and various other activities.
Katherine held dear to her heart the family’s summer camp on Canada’s Georgian Bay (the Iron City Fishing Club, Ontario) where a close-knit community of family and friends cherished her and where she spent many happy days swimming and picnicking. She often reflected on the significance of the trips she took to Australia, Denmark, England, and Finland in her twenties, a time of personal independence and adventure. At the age of 30, she asserted her adulthood by declaring that her name was no longer Katie, but rather Katherine.
Everywhere she went, Katherine made friends and exemplified generosity of spirit – focused always on the joys and comforts of others. She was an avid letter writer, remembering birthdays with cards and gifts, often something she’d made. Her smile was pure, her laugh and delightful sense of humor enduring to the end. She found great solace in front of a fireplace or on a porch swing. Katherine leaves beautiful memories of a not-so-secret sweet tooth, an impressive enthusiasm for oysters, and a deep connection to the musical Annie. In addition, she had the capacity for giving great hugs, a bracing and often refreshing candor, a signature goodbye wave, and an unrivaled love of the greeting card aisle at any pharmacy.
Katherine is survived by her father, Stewart H. Steffey Jr. of Dedham, MA; grandmother, Euphemia Hare Steffey of Pittsburgh, PA; brother, Stewart H. Steffey III (wife Hilde) of Arlington, MA; sister, Elizabeth Steffey Vinton (husband Nathaniel) of Dedham, MA; and brother, Tyler R.H. Steffey (wife Joanna) of Sudbury, MA. In recent years she took joy in the arrival of seven nieces and nephews who adored their beloved aunt. They are Eliza and Oscar Steffey of Arlington, MA; Anna, Euphemia, and Sarah Vinton of Dedham, MA; and Eleanor and Nicolas Steffey of Sudbury, MA. Katherine was preceded in death by her mother, Elizabeth Roby Steffey, on August 8th, 2016.
A memorial service celebrating Katherine’s life and laughter will be held on March 30 at 10:30am at First Parish Church of Brookline, 382 Walnut St, Brookline, MA 02445. All adults and children are welcome! In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Katherine’s name to the Triform, Camphill Community: http://triform.org/donate-now/.
Triform Camphill Community
20 Triform Rd, Hudson NY 12534