Obituary: Catherine Reed, artist and scientist

Catherine Reed, center right, surrounded by family in front of the original Shawnee Mission Post headquarters.

Catherine Cleland Reed died May 25 from complications of ALS. Mother of Julia Westhoff and mother-in-law of Jay Senter, she is also survived by her husband Norman Westhoff, her sons Alex and Ben Westhoff, and her five grandchildren.

Catherine was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, the middle child of renowned geneticists Sheldon and Elizabeth Reed. She pursued her lifelong twin passions of art and science at various institutions around the country, including the University of Minnesota and the SeedCo studios in Lawrence, Kan.

She loved walking, reading and eating anything chocolate. She traveled the world, exploring India with her Girl Scout troop, volunteering in Ghana after college, camping in Kenya while pregnant and exploring the Flint Hills in her Volkswagen camper van well into her 70s.

She knew the common and Latin names of most living things. She could quote Longfellow, Shakespeare, and Octavia Butler with equal fluidity. She was always up for an outing, especially if it included flowers or ice cream. She could identify pieces of art in museums around the world. She once chased away a bear on her honeymoon while Norman hid in the tent. The sound of a youth choir always made her cry.

She supported her children unequivocally. She could make a stunning bouquet out of garden weeds. She read the same book to her grandchildren dozens of times without complaint. She was an ardent feminist, a lifelong learner and a role model to those lucky enough to know her. She will be missed dearly.