Posted by Newspaper Transcriber on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 18:53:21 :
Mary Catherine "Katy" Brown, sister of Coastside physician Deborah Penrose, died Sept. 3 at her home in Santa Cruz, due to brain cancer. She was 49.
"She was our baby sister," said Penrose. "We all loved her."
Ms. Brown was born into a large family on Feb. 19, 1957, in Philadelphia. She grew up and attended school through high school there, and then attended Fairfield University in Connecticut, where she studied liberal arts and graduated magna cum laude.
For a year she lived in Boston, where she met her husband, Chris Hourigan. They married in the mid-1980s and, due to her husband's work in the military service, lived for a while in Norfolk, Va. The couple also lived briefly in Oakland and in Cupertino before divorcing in the early 1990s.
Ms. Brown came to the Coastside in 2000, where she dedicated herself to raising her three sons and worked briefly for M Coffee. She also worked for a few years in billing for her sister, Dr. Penrose's medical office, and then as a paralegal for the local Rose, Rix and Bennett legal firm, now in Palo Alto.
Ms. Brown had always been involved and creative in the performing arts, starting in high school. She played guitar and appeared in the musical, "The King and I," where she "found out she had a great voice," said Penrose. She went on to sing with different choral groups and jammed seriously with Coastside musicians including bassist Peter Bland and keyboard player John Donohue, with whom she performed at M Coffee.
She also wrote songs, generally ballads and love songs, and was an artist who drew and sketched. "She was very talented," Penrose said.
Ms. Brown was also a spiritual seeker, Penrose said, who explored Sufism and Buddhism. "She was constantly reading religious and spiritual works, trying to find the right spiritual path," Penrose said.
Penrose added that her sister had a gift for communication. "She could connect instantly to people," she said. "She was non-judgmental, loving, accepting."
"Katy led a deeply spiritual life, with a lifelong commitment to seeking absolute truth and wisdom," wrote her siblings in an obituary notice. "Her greatest legacy is the love that lived within her heart, manifest in her three wonderful children. This love drew people to Katy naturally."
A focal point of Ms. Brown's life was her sons, Penrose said. "She was a magnificent mother. She doted on her three boys.
"She was very intelligent. Very bright," Penrose added.
Ms. Brown fought her illness with determination, said her sister, undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy twice. "She didn't think she was going to die," Penrose said. "She wanted to do anything she could to stay alive."
Ms. Brown is preceded in death by her parents, Bill and Betty Brown of Springfield, Pa. She is survived by sons William Hourigan of Los Angeles, John Hourigan of Santa Cruz and Matthew Hourigan of Santa Clara; her former husband and his wife Chris and Jill Hourigan of Santa Clara; one brother and eight sisters including Deborah Penrose of Montara; and dozens of nieces and nephews.
"Every one of us will miss her very much," said Penrose.
A celebration of Ms. Brown's life has been held, and the family is planning a family reunion with a ceremony for her in the summer, Penrose said.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to the Hourigan Boys Fund, c/o Deborah Penrose, P.O. Box 370781, Montara, CA 94037.
Half Moon Bay Review and Pescadero Pebble, Wednesday, September 13, 2006
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