Catherine Ann Rawson (Swindal), of Okanogan, died Feb. 14, 2018 (St. Valentine’s Day) at The Caring Cottage in Wenatchee.
Cathy was born Nov. 1, 1951, in Pullman, Washington, to Marc and Rita Swindal. She graduated from Pullman High School (1970) with honors. She attended Gonzaga University and then transferred to Washington State University to pursue a degree in nursing. She graduated from the Intercollegiate School of Nursing with a BSN in 1975, and soon passed her Registered Nurse boards.
She married Henry “Hank” Rawson in 1975 and they moved to Okanogan.
Cathy pursued her career in nursing with a heartfelt focus on excellence in caring for everyone, regardless of their situation in life. She began her career at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, and later at Okanogan Regional Home Health Care. She became a Certified Diabetic Educator (CDE) and earned a master’s degree in nursing education from St. Joseph’s College in Maine. She worked with diabetic patients at Mid-Valley Hospital and the Family Health Center. In 1985, Cathy, along with Mary Ann Williams and Liz Stucker, were the first instructors in a new associate degree in nursing program established at Wenatchee Valley College-North in Omak.
In between, she made time to drive success and achievement in her community.
In June 1989, Cathy was the first recipient, along with Dee Camp, of the Okanogan School Board’s new monthly Citizen Award. Later, she was elected to the school board and served a four-year term. She made daily trips to oversee construction on the new Virginia Grainger Elementary School. She earned the respect of the architect and construction workers as she perused the plans, asked questions, and found several errors that were subsequently corrected. She expected the construction to be done right, not only for students, but also for taxpayers footing the bill.
She worked tirelessly with the school board on levies, for support and education in the local arts community, church groups and after-school activities.
She was instrumental in developing a car seat exchange program sponsored by the GFWC-Okanogan Junior Women and bringing science programs to the Okanogan Valley from the Pacific Northwest Science Center of Seattle. She was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.
She also embraced other people’s passions and supported them as if her own; whether charitable, civic, or community events with Hank in Chamber of Commerce or Rotary activities or her children’s involvement in dance, music or drama and sports.
Before her life became so full, she was also an artist. Her favorite mediums were paper and fabric. As a teenager, she won dozens of blue ribbons at the Whitman County Fair each summer for her sewing skills, that included tailored wool suits.
She was meticulous as well as creative. She made her own wedding gown. She fashioned unique hand-made paper greeting cards, banners and signs for every occasion, always focused on celebrating others’ gifts and accomplishments.
Born and raised in Pullman, she was a “dyed-in-the-wool” WSU Cougar fan listening to Bob Robertson and later becoming a Seattle Mariner fan! We are sure that she already has the radio on in Heaven. She will be listening to the play by play of Dave Neihaus, waiting for his “My Oh My” or “Get Out the Rye Bread and Mustard, It’s Grand Salami Time.” In between, it will be tuned to classic rock and roll.
Her faith and family were her rock from which she drew and shared her limitless love and strength every day. Her parents, lifetime volunteers and community leaders themselves, were the source of her own life in service to others. She is preceded in death by her father, Dr. Marc Swindal. She leaves her mother, Rita Swindal; sisters Mary Grady and Patricia Swindal; brothers Jim and John Swindal; husband, Henry “Hank” Rawson; daughters Danielle (Rawson) Freeman (spouse: Andrew) and Ashley Rawson; sons Stephen (spouse: Morgan) and Timothy Rawson; and granddaughters Eden, Evelyn and Adira Freeman.
Cathy was an unselfish, kind and caring person who always had time to listen, to help, to make things better.
A visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. with a rosary commencing at 7 p.m. at the Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel located at 2547 Elmway in Okanogan. Her life will be celebrated at mass at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 17, 2018, at St. Mary’s Mission Church in Omak. A luncheon reception will follow the service at the Omak Elks Lodge located at 110 S. Ash, Omak (across from Wells Fargo Bank).
The family has established a nursing scholarship for students of the Omak Campus of Wenatchee Valley College through the Okanogan-Omak Rotary Club (P.O. Box 2031, Omak, WA 98841) to continue her dream of teaching, skilled, loving and compassionate nurses. If you wish, you can contribute to this endeavor by making a tax-deductible donation in her memory.