Kathy Stevens, a longtime resident of Santa Rosa, died Wednesday in Pasadena at the age of 80 joining her husband, Tom, brother, Michael, parents, Art and Esther, and countless other relatives. She is survived by her children Lisa Stevens (Robert Gallo), Brian Stevens (Michael Hayes), Dan Stevens (Katie) and grandchildren Joey, Michaela, Ben, Olivia, Ella and Estelle, sister Mary Green (Tom) and numerous cousins, nephews, a niece and friends.
On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #Choose to Challenge. Kathy challenged all of her friends and family every day to appreciate each other, be kind, and see the beauty in everyone, to have fun and to stand by her values that family, friends and her faith (in God and people) was at the center of everything.
Kathy was born in a pandemic and died in one. When she was just five years old, Kathy and her beloved mother, Esther Eachus Kenny, contracted tuberculosis. Isolated for a year, Kathy and Esther experienced “socially distanced” visits by her father, Art Kenny, and siblings, Michael and Mary. Esther became a victim of the pandemic of that decade and Kathy survived.
Kathy moved to Santa Rosa after graduating from Dominican College in San Rafael. She went on to spend the rest of her life impressing countless lives as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, and teacher.
Before an era of social media influencers, Kathy was a true inspiration to countless Sonoma County residents. Over the span of more than 40 years, she touched the lives of countless school children. Kathy taught multiple generations and left an imprint of positivity and joy on all her students.
Kathy’s brother, Bishop Michael Kenny, who headed the Juneau diocese until his death in 1995, was the chancellor of the Santa Rosa diocese from 1972 to 1979 and a beloved parish priest at Holy Spirit during those years. When he was later ordained a bishop in 1979 with Kathy and her family in attendance, the family had the chance to meet both John Paul II and Mother Theresa at the time. The occasion marked a period of inspiration and hope for new possibilities in the direction of the Catholic church that Kathy took to heart.
Kathy was an active member of the Holy Spirit Church community, a sacred place for her where after retirement, she attended daily Mass until the pandemic. Kathy moved to Pasadena last March during the Pandemic and was counting down the days to attend Holy Family Mass in South Pasadena versus watching online. All of her life she strived to make the Catholic church a more welcoming community of faith. She believed in the importance of empowering women in the church and increasing their participation in its leadership. She was involved early on with the group “Call to Action” which promoted greater inclusivity in the church. Kathy was quietly visionary and a remarkable woman for her time, not satisfied with the status quo.
Kathy loved attending conferences that dealt with reforming the Catholic Church or dealing with bringing the power of Women together. Kathy attended Maria Shriver’s California Women’s Conferences during her husband’s tenure as Governor. Kathy was hoping Jennifer Newsom would bring it back. The conference was an opportunity for Kathy to express what she did all her life. She was either teaching others or learning from others.
One of many gifts Kathy handed down was how to live life to the fullest. The time of her death marks great hope with us coming slowly out of the pandemic. In her honor there will be a celebration of her life on 2pm, May 9th at Holy Spirit Church with reception on the plaza to follow. For many it will be their first event out – Kathy will want the time to be full of energy, love, gratitude and fun.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mayfield Senior School, 500 Bellefontaine, Pasadena, CA 91105 ATTN: Brittany Sorrentino, or Give to mayfieldsenior.org >giving