Obituaries » Kathy L. Van Veen
January 6, 1947 - April 26, 2017
Service Date: May 11, 2017
Funeral Location St Ignatius
Kathleen Louise Van Veen, known to everybody as Kathy, passed away peacefully at her home in Southeast Portland on the evening of April 26, 2017, 36 weeks after she was told she had an inoperable brain tumor and only 8 weeks to live. Kathy was a bit of a nonconformist. She was 70. Born January 6, 1947, to Theodore (Ted) and Frances (Fran) K (nee Ackerman) Van Veen in Portland, Kathy attended St. Ignatius School until her family moved to Denver. Returning to Portland, she entered and graduated from Marycrest High School, attended the University of Portland for one year and then the University of Washington in Seattle where she ran track and graduated with a doctorate. She was a life-long member of Mensa.
Rhododendrons were Kathy’s life. Her career began when she was still in high school, working part time at the rhododendron nursery (The Van Veen Nursery) in Southeast Portland her grandfather had started in 1926 and which had been handed down to her father, Ted. Kathy became involved full time after her graduation from UW, and when her father passed away in 2003, Kathy took control. With her work and innovation in rhododendron propagation, she soon became a respected leader in the international rhododendron community, as was her father and grandfather before her.
Kathy also served as President of the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, and Chair of Friends of Crystal Springs. She never stopped learning and teaching about rhododendrons, and always enjoyed volunteering on the subject.
In addition to the nursery, Kathy loved her family and friends, her several cats, and her two garrulous cockatiels. She regularly jogged to the top of Mt. Tabor, had a wicked sense of humor, a ready smile, and walked her daily errands. She was always happy and found humor everywhere.
Kathy was preceded in death by her parents. She leaves behind her sister, Diane Barnes of Seattle, two nephews and a niece, numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and colleagues. Gone too soon, she will be missed.
Kathy was interred next to her parents at Mount Calvary Cemetery on May 2nd without ceremony, in accordance with her wishes. A memorial service will be held Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 10:00 in the morning, at St Ignatius Church in Southeast Portland. A catered reception will follow.