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Obituary of Catherine Talmadge
Catherine Cassel Talmadge — a longtime Westporter, prominent volunteer in numerous organizations, and beloved wife, mother, sister and friend — has passed away at the age of 71.
After a long and public battle with sarcoidosis and kidney disease, followed by a rapid and private battle with esophageal cancer, Cathy succumbed to her illness on December 30th, 2022.
Born to William Gilbert Cassel and Joe Anna Brown Cassel on December 9th, 1951, Cathy spent her first few years in Oakland, California and Rochester, Minnesota before the family moved back to her parents’ hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Cathy spent the majority of her childhood in Dayton and graduated from Fairview High School.
In 1975, Cathy received a BA in dance performance, with a minor in philosophy, from Denison University. Cathy practiced modern dance and moved to Breckenridge, Colorado where she met her husband, Tom Talmadge, in 1977.
Their early years were carefree, on the slopes and spent with friends in local venues.
In 1979, Cathy returned to school to obtain an MBA at University of Denver, with hopes of opening a dance studio. Though that dream never came to fruition, she discovered a talent for business and communications at a time when it was not so common for women to have MBAs.
She was soon swept into various business operations, including a successful career at Time Warner Cable from 1982 to 2001. Cathy rose to become vice president of finance. Over her nearly 20 years with the company, Cathy rose to Vice President of Finance and was a true pioneer for women in the workforce, paving the way for many to follow in her footsteps.
This role brought Cathy, Tom and their infant daughter Carolyn to Westport in 1989 where she lived for the rest of her life.
Subsequent to her tenure at Time Warner Cable, Cathy continued as a consultant with several telecommunications companies including Lemur and Juniper Networks and was involved in several entrepreneurial business ventures.
Cathy’s active participation in the Westport community for over 3 decades began as a mother with school organizations and as a member at the Fairfield County Hunt Club.
In recent decades, Cathy worked energetically and happily to make Westport a better place to live. For over 14 years she was an elected member of the Representative Town Meeting, serving on its Finance, Public Works, and Environment Committees.
She balanced this with leadership roles in local organizations that work to secure a more sustainable future. She was an early organizer for Wakeman Town Farm, and long-term treasurer as it developed into a viable enterprise. While she served on the boards of Wakeman Town Farm, Friends of Sherwood Island State Park, and Earthplace, her daily boots-on-the-ground volunteering was equally appreciated.
In her spare time Cathy was an avid cook, gardener, swimmer, skier, reader, tennis player, hiker and world traveler; a lover of animals, all things beautiful, and all things nature.
In addition to their beloved house pets, Cathy and Tom raised chickens, and cared for a pride of feral cats, working with local trap and neuter organization, TAILS, to keep them healthy and humanely contained.
Cathy is survived by Tom, her husband of 40 years; her daughter Carolyn of Boston; sisters Polly Cassel of Northampton, Massachusetts, Beth Cassel of San Rafael, California and Martha Cassel of Cambridge, Massachusetts; nieces Stella and Eva Cilman and nephew Rudy Robinett, and many beloved friends.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 27th at Greenfield Hill Church (1045 Old Academy Road, Fairfield CT 06824). The service is public and will start at 1pm with a reception in the hall to follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that those who are able instead make a donation to Wakeman Town Farm, Earthplace or TAILS. For travel directions or to sign her online guest registry, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com
Last month, “06880” published this tribute to Cathy, from her friend Christy Colasurdo. Her longtime friend and fellow Wakeman Town Farm volunteer wrote:
When I met you more than 15 years ago, I was in awe. You were a wonderful cook, gardener, traveler, swimmer, environmentalist, and served on at least 2 town boards. And that’s just skimming the surface.
You clearly relished your role as a conduit between the players in town and the organizations you served. You knew everyone who was anyone, and they obviously knew and respected you. But the thing that impressed me the most was how you were always the first to quietly jump in to lend a hand, whether it was wrangling permits from the liquor control board, rolling up your sleeves to sew masks during COVID or dropping off used file folders to cut down on paper waste.
When I think of you, I picture you in your sunny kitchen with a soup bubbling on the stove and a golden retriever and Siamese cat at your feet, switching out your seasonal planters, or working away at your sewing table. You befriended and surrounded yourself with local environmental “greats” like Sal Gilbertie and Norm Bloom, and you were viewed as a civic leader on par with these giants for your commitment to Earthplace, Sherwood Island, the RTM, Wakeman Town Farm and other local organizations fighting for a more sustainable environment.
At the Farm you were one of the pioneers, putting yourself in the mix to ensure a successful initial renovation of the aging Wakeman residence to provide a cozy and warm welcome to the first caretaking family.
After this you took on the dual roles of town liaison and farm treasurer, helping create accounting systems, guiding budget decisions, managing the Farm’s first audit and so much more.
To many of us at the Farm you were a valued team player and, more than this: family.
I was deeply affected by your fight through serious illnesses, leading to your kidney transplant last year.
Thank you for your friendship, and for being such a wonderful person. Please know that you have always been an inspiration to me and many others. and that we are with you now.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Catherine Talmadge, please visit Tribute Store
In Loving Memory
1951 - 2022
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