||Katheryne Crook Levis McCormick
December 23, 1922 to October 9, 2011
Katheryne McCormick was born in Baltimore in 1922, two days before
Christmas and 10 minutes before her twin sister Dorothy. The two girls
grew up together, became remarkably close even for twins, and led
parallel lives. As youngsters, they were entrepreneurial, athletic,
seemingly limitless in energy, and, one imagines, a little feisty. They
did chores for the neighbors; sold lemonade, snow cones, and wild
violets; and accumulated the money they needed for a typewriter, a
fancy RCA table model radio, and, above all, tennis racquets, lacrosse
sticks, and baseball bats and gloves. Each twin had at hand both a
companion and competitor, and each learned early in life that results
are proportional to effort.
After graduating with kudos, honors, and prizes from Eastern High in Baltimore, Katheryne and Dorothy went off together to the Women's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. They arrived on campus wearing identical outfits and graduated four years later, each with better than a 3.9 grade point average in chemistry.
Setting off for graduate school, their paths remained parallel: Each twin was offered an identical "fellowship in plastics" (the new field of polymer chemistry) at the University of Delaware in 1945. And, while at Delaware, the twins met two young graduate students in American history, Dick McCormick and John Munroe, roommates no less, each of whom was then completing graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania while teaching at the nearby University of Delaware. That summer, with their masters degrees in chemistry completed, Dorothy married John and Katheryne married Dick. The two couples remained best friends for a lifetime.
Katch and Dick settled in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where Dick began his distinguished career as a historian at Rutgers. A few years later they moved to Piscataway, to the house on River Road where they lived for 53 years. Their son Richard was born in 1947 and their daughter Dorothy arrived in 1950.
While raising the children, Katch plunged her remarkable, restless energy into teaching chemistry and later math at Douglass College and into civic and political activities, through the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Party, and the Piscataway Board of Education. She was not just a member of these organizations but an untiring advocate for causes she believed in, perhaps most notably fair, broad-based taxes for New Jersey.
In the early 1970s, Katch earned a masters degree in Educational Administration at Rutgers, and soon thereafter she became the University's Director of Space and Scheduling, a position in which she served for many years. Faculty members still remember the passion she brought to ensuring that courses were assigned to appropriate classrooms (not necessarily right next door to the faculty member's office!) and that students were given class schedules that minimized their travel time around Rutgers' far-flung campuses.
Following her retirement from Rutgers in 1983, Katch and Dick spent their summers in Harwich, Massachusetts, where Dot and John also had a summer home. Golf was Katch's premier pastime, both in New Jersey and at Cape Cod, but her civic energies never flagged. She remained active in voter registration drives and, well into her 80s, she volunteered vast amounts of time preparing income tax forms and homestead rebate applications for "old" people. Toward the end of her life, one of her greatest causes was the Rutgers Future Scholars Program, a tool for encouraging and enabling boys and girls who are growing up in the University's home cities of Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden to go to college.
Katheryne died peacefully here at Arbor Glen. She is survived by her beloved sister, her children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Except for the very youngest among them, all will always remember the passion, the energy, and the humane spirit that Katheryne brought to a long and good life.
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