On the evening of 27 March, 2019, Kathleen Elizabeth Watters Easterson opened her smiling Irish eyes, mouthed “I love you” to her loving daughter, Erin Ruymen, and then peacefully passed to join her sister Mary Honeyman, eldest son Eric Easterson, youngest daughter Kristen Easterson, and her devoted husband, Harold Easterson.
Kathleen was born on November 29, 1930 in Manhattan, New York to her Irish immigrant parents, Michael and Catherine Watters. After graduating high school in 1948, she went on to earn health care degrees as a Registered Nurse (RN), BS, and MA including Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN). Kathleen began her remarkable career as a pioneering Flight Nurse traveling the world experiencing off the beaten path adventures including military flights in to 1950’s cold war era Eastern Europe.
On St Patrick’s Day 1953, she met gentle, happy go lucky crooning musician, artistic technical editor Harold. They immediately fell into a deep devoted love lasting for the rest of their lives, and married later on January 12, 1957 after a romantic proposal at the “Top of The Mark” restaurant in San Francisco.
They eventually settled in Hauppauge/Commack Long Island and had eight children in ten years; Eric, Erin (Missy), Leif, Jon, Lars, Bruce, Kristen, and Michael (Bunky).
Kathleen worked as a nurse as the children got older, eventually joining Harold working at Grumman Aerospace as an occupational health nurse. This was a time of great activity and support for schoolwork, sports, clubs, scouting, and tending to both minor and life-threatening injuries. Each day after work was an additional job as chauffer to the kids numerous after school activities and finally crowned with the daily cow bell clanging the call to dinner. As her children were growing and starting college Kathleen went back to School to earn her Bachelors of Science in Psychology, and Masters Degree in Public Administration. Kathleen advanced to Director of Nursing for Long Island Jewish Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital. She was a ground breaking nationally recognized Occupational Health Nurse and was President of the New York Occupational Health Nurses Association.
After many action packed happy years on Long Island, Harold and Kathleen retired to Chetek, Wisconsin, in the area where Harold’s family had settled in the 1800’s from Norway. They bought a lakefront house on Bass Lake that had an open-door policy for family and friends to visit. Their remote retreat was their beloved Valtara which they enjoyed for the rest of their time together. Both Harold and Kathleen were active in the Bass Lake Association.
An annual winter respite was taken to the island of Barbados that offered warm weather, laid back culture, and spending time with family and friends that would join them there.
On Christmas day 2006, Harold passed on and Kathleen lived at Valtara until July, 2011. Kathleen then went to stay with her daughter Erin’s family in Palos Verdes, California where she became a cherished member of that household, and enjoyed many years of loving care. She is survived by six of her children and fourteen grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at the Burnham-Ours-Kolstad Family Funeral Home in Chetek on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. Visitation will be held at the funeral home beginning at 9:00 A.M. and continue until the time of service.
She will be laid to rest at the Drammen Lutheran Church Cemetery following the service.