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Katherine Fenelon Thompson


A long, wonderful and adventurous life came to a peaceful end on August 27th when Katherine Fenelon Thompson died at a Loveland hospice with family at her side. She died from complications following surgery for a broken hip. Katherine, a resident of Estes Park’s Good Samaritan Village, had moved with family to Colorado from California four years ago.

Katherine was born to John Fenelon and Flora Irwin Fenelon in Pollock, South Dakota, a town founded by her father. Katherine was the second of four children and the only daughter. Unlike her brothers, the small town of Pollock didn’t hold her for long. She left Pollock at the age of 14 to attend high school in the big city – Huron, South Dakota; from there, she attended a preparatory academy in Chicago before heading to the University of Wisconsin where she earned a degree in economics – a very unusual accomplishment for a woman in that era.

After graduation, she established a non-traditional career in the food industry where she managed transportation and distribution for companies like Stokley – Van Camp. Over the years, that career led her to live in many cities across the nation – Chicago, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Louisville, and finally San Francisco, a city she loved and where she lived for more than 50 years.

Travel was always a passion with Katherine and she undertook a solo world tour in the 1960s that lasted nine months. As she traveled the globe, she visited many nations that now exist only in history books. At other times, it was her delight to spend several months in a country, such as Portugal, France and Mexico, living among the locals and getting to know the people, many of whom she corresponded with for decades.
An avowed Francophile, she was fluent in French and continued to hone her language skills as a hobby after she retired. Katherine maintained a vital interest in all things political, economic and international – The Economist magazine was her favorite source of information, although she occasionally found it necessary to edit its text when she spotted grammatical errors. She had recently taken up Wii bowling at Good Samaritan, a competitive computer sport in which she was a rising star.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Alexander Woodruff Thompson Jr., brothers Irwin, William and John, and nephew Thomas. She is survived by her niece and nephews for whom a visit from “Aunt Kay” was always a much anticipated holiday highlight: Jack (wife Holly) of Estes Park; Robert (partner Jack) of Goleta, CA; Don (wife Chris) of Baltimore, MD; and Mary Fenelon Cooper of Palatka, FL. Grand-nephews and nieces include John Tyler Fenelon of Los Angeles: Sarah Katherine Relis (husband Matt) of Aurora; Andrew Fenelon of Philadelphia; Thomas Cooper of Jacksonville, FL; Joseph Cooper of Atlanta, GA; and Sheryl Clouse (husband Kelly) of La Crescent, MN. She was delighted recently to meet her great-great nephew, Isaac Daniel Relis, for the first time. Gail Fairburn of Santa Barbara, CA, is another family member who was dear to Katherine’s heart.

At Katherine’s direction, there will be no memorial service. We hope that her many friends will remember her and celebrate her remarkable life in whatever way they find most meaningful. Katherine’s family is deeply grateful to the residents and staff of Estes Park’s Good Samaritan Village for their thoughtfulness and the kind care extended to Katherine during her time there.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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