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Published: Monday, 1/9/2012

Katherine Walsh, 1916-2012: Parishioner wrote history of S. Toledo Catholic church

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Katherine Walsh, who wrote a book on the history of Immaculate Conception Church and volunteered for many years at the nearby Guadalupe Center, died Saturday in her home. She was 95.

She had been in poor health since May, when she suffered a stroke, said her daughter Sheila Walsh, who didn't know the cause of death.

The former Katherine Westmeyer. Mrs. Walsh, who grew up on Segur Avenue, was a lifelong member of Immaculate Conception. She attended the parish grade school, as did her late husband of nearly 60 years. The couple raised their family in the neighborhood.

Miss Walsh said her mother wrote a book documenting the history of the church at Maumee Avenue and Broadway in 1968 for the centennial celebration of the parish, which was established to serve Irish immigrants who settled in Toledo to work in the railroads. She said she based the book on documents and records kept by the church.

Mrs. Walsh and her husband, who died Nov. 7, 2005, were active in the church and school as well as in a group that tried to maintain the neighborhood along Broadway, which is often referred to as the Darby. "They did a lot of work for the church festival. That was important to them," Miss Walsh said.

One of 10 children, Mrs. Walsh attended the old St. Ursula Academy on Collingwood Boulevard. She took classes at Mary Manse College but discontinued her studies to work at the Ludwig-Lane Dairy Co., which later merged with Babcock Dairy, her daughter said.

During World War II, Mrs. Walsh worked for the U.S. Department of Defense at Wright Field in Dayton as a civilian radio engineering aide from 1943 to 1945.

Miss Walsh said her mother was among the few women employed there.

"She was in the communications department, working with fighter-plane and antenna development. She was the only female in the branch in a laboratory set up by the war department," Miss Walsh said.

She also studied electrical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

After her marriage on April 27, 1946, she taught off and on at parochial schools, including Good Shepherd in East Toledo, but mostly was a stay-at-home mom, her daughter said.

After the Guadalupe Center opened in 1964 in what was Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Segur, Mrs. Walsh helped with programs directed at the Spanish-speaking community.

Miss Walsh said she tutored people to get them ready to take high school equivalency tests and helped children with their studies.

She said her mother walked to the center because she never learned to drive.

As a young woman, Mrs. Walsh performed on stage with the Darby Players, a neighborhood theater group that presented plays in Immaculate Conception School.

Surviving are her daughters, Sheila and Mary Eileen Walsh, sons, Vincent and Joseph Walsh, brother, Walter Westmeyer, and six grandchildren.

Services are to be at 1 p.m. Thursday in Immaculate Conception Church. Visitation is to be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Coyle Funeral Home, South Reynolds Road, where a scripture service is to be at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The family requests tributes to Immaculate Conception Church, St. Ursula Academy or Convent, or Northwest Ohio Hospice Association.



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