Katherine M. Clarke was born October 29, 1953 in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. She celebrated her upcoming 70th birthday with family and friends over a glorious weekend this summer in her Marlborough home at the foot of Mt. Monadnock. She died on January 15, 2024 at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H. attended by family and a cherished friend.
Katherine is survived by her spouse Lily DeYoung, her sister Nora Clarke, her sister-in-law Sherry Mackoff, her niece Shayna and nephew Peter, a brand new grandnephew, and many longtime friends, both Canadian and American. She was predeceased by her parents Richard Alexander and Nancy Clarke and her brother Steven.
Katherine studied psychology at the University of British Columbia (BA, 1975; MA,1977) and earned her doctorate from Loyola University of Chicago (1981.) She was Director of the Pastoral Counseling Program at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada (1983-1989) and later Director of the St. Paul University Counseling Center (1989-1992). Taking a sabbatical year in 1987-88, she spent a year in Cambridge, MA. as a Clinical Fellow in Psychology and Religion at Harvard Medical School and came to love lingering in Harvard Square’s Au Bon Pain.
In 1992 she became Associate Professor of Pastoral Counseling at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Cambridge, MA. and became Chair of the Department in 1997. After earning an MBA at Simmons School of Management (Boston) in 1998, she became Weston’s VP of Finance and Administration.
Moving to San Francisco in 2002, Katherine served as VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty for Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center. She returned to New England in 2005 where she was appointed Chair of the Department of Applied Psychology of Antioch University of New England. She was later appointed as VP for Academic Affairs. She retired in 2015.
Her teaching interests included organizational change, leadership, counseling theory, psychology and spirituality. Her research interests included meaning-making (decades before it was a thing) and spiritual resilience in persons living with disabilities. She was a generous mentor, gifted at helping people hear their own inner voice and strength. She had quick and dry sense of humor, was unbeatable at Scrabble and forgave without taking hostages.
In retirement, Katherine served as Chair of the Board of the Monadnock Humane Society before moving to Sarasota, Florida to explore retired life without snow. After run-ins with hurricanes and alligators, she and Lily decided snow was not so bad and they moved back to their home in Marlborough. By then, Katherine had begun studying and writing poetry. Her work was published in Breath and Shadow, Wordgathering, Northern New England Review and Touchstone. She won the Amy Lowell Award in 2021 from the New England Poetry Club.
In 2020 she began teaching Poetry at Keene State’s Cheshire Academy for Lifelong Learning, working with retired women and men who were beginning or continuing their own poetry practice. She taught for three years and looked forward to every single class.
Katherine lived her entire life with multiple disabilities due to a genetic condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT.) From a young age, she was fierce about being independent. She maintained her own home for years. She drove and walked until she was 60. For the last ten years, pain and weakness were constant and intrusive realities, but she refused to let them slow her down. She did the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist, and then designed her own because “if you can move a muscle, you can strengthen it.” She kept up a meditation practice and learned self-hypnosis.
She did not complain much about her problems, except that she was pretty fed up with the barriers which exclude people with disabilities. She was known to point out that in the battle for civil rights, persons with disabilities are just about the last group of people to be noticed.
Katherine was a lifelong Anglican who knew much of the BCP by heart. She also embraced the Buddhist prayer of Lovingkindness (metta) as it is taught by Sharon Salzberg. One prays for (offers, wishes) three things first for onesself and then for all sentient beings. “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I live with ease (or without struggle or in peace.)” I think she would commend that prayer to us in these days.
A friend of hers wrote that it is hard to imagine the world without her. That’s true. I find it painfully hard. But it is also true that the world is now a better place, because so many people, including me, are better people because of her.