Published 8:15 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Catherine Walsh, writer, realtor, animal lover and beloved mother, passed away peacefully on September 9, 2023, at the age of 87 at her home in Oxford Mississippi. She was surrounded by her health aids, headed up by Bettye Herron, and her minister the Reverend Kenny Koeneman.
She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on March 22, 1936, to James Aloysius Walsh, President of Armstrong Rubber Company, and his wife, Margaret Catherine Carroll. Catherine graduated from Smith College in 1956 at the age of twenty, with a degree in English that already boasted her writing name “Kathryn Zita”. Marrying WWII pilot Kurt Conley while at Smith, the couple had a son, Sean Conley – who lives in West Tisbury, Massachusetts where he founded Nautilus Realty and opened the Aikido Dojo of Martha’s Vineyard. After Kurt’s death in a fire, Kate met Conrad Thomas while traveling in Spain and after touring together, married in Gibraltar in 1962. Conrad – also a WWII veteran and a lieutenant in the Navy. The couple gave birth to Kate’s second son, James Thomas, who would go on to found MacMillan Films.
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Kate will be remembered for her exuberance for life, and her many husbands and lovers. She met and spent time with John Huston during the filming of the Misfits before going around the world. In the 1970s she lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City and married the composer George Kleinsinger who lived in a penthouse with a menagerie of animals. Living there brought her family into contact with Andy Warhol, Arthur C. Clarke, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin and other Bohemians. In the 1980s she moved and lived throughout Europe. She married again – to John Simpson, a ‘Battle of Britain’ fighter pilot, and they moved to live in Cummington, Massachusetts until a house fire. Moving to Lyme Rock, Connecticut, she bred Jack Russell terriers and now married again to Rodney Crombie – formerly a Captain in the British SAS. Kate then moved to Miami, Florida, and became a journalist reporting on the night club scene before moving to her final pick for home, Mississippi, where she been a child when her father opened the Armstrong Rubber Plant in Natchez. Kate picked Oxford for its writing tradition. Over her life, Kate wrote many short stories and there is currently a project to decode her diary and publish her writings and adventures.
A memorial service will be held 2:00 PM Sunday, October 15, 2023, at Kate’s home in Oxford, Mississippi with the Reverend Kenny presiding. All welcome.
Survivors: Sons: Sean Conley and James Thomas; Grandchildren: Emma Conley, Max Conley, Christopher Thomas and Matthew Thomas; and Great-grandchildren: Luca Conley Lopes