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Katherine Loretta [Curran] Klaum was born on October 27, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York. Katherine was the second of four daughters born to John and Marcella Curran. Along with sisters Margaret, Phyllis, and Marcella, Katherine grew up in Brooklyn with a short hiatus in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Katherine graduated from St. Brendan’s High School and decided to work for the phone company. One year later, she followed her younger sister, Phyllis, to nursing school at St. Mary’s Hospital in Brooklyn. At St. Mary’s, Katherine met Dr. Arthur Klaum from Ridgewood, Queens. Katherine and Arthur married on Katherine’s 23rd birthday. Katherine then modified the spelling of her first name, originally spelled “Catherine,” to “Katherine,” and her initials from “CLC” to “KLK.” To many of her friends and loved ones she was known simply as “Kay.”
In 1952, Kay and Arthur welcomed their first child, Rosemary. While Arthur tended to his surgical practice, Katherine tended to their growing flock. The couple welcomed Susan, Diane, Virginia, and Patrice, then two sons, David and Arthur, and finally in 1964, their beloved 8th child, Mary Katherine (“Mary Kay”). Kay and Arthur raised their family on Kessel Street in Forest Hills and summered with their large brood in a modest three-bedroom house in Reydon Shores, Southold. Katherine and Arthur were longtime parishioners at Our Lady of Mercy in Forest Hills and St. Patrick’s Church in Southold.
In 1993, Katherine and Arthur moved from Southold to Port Jefferson to be closer to their children and their doctors. Arthur passed away in 1999 after struggling from the effects of Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed seventeen years earlier. In May of 2001, Katherine became one of the first residents at Jefferson’s Ferry, a state of the art life care community in South Setauket. Katherine lived independently for 14 years until she transitioned to Enriched Housing in the Bove Health Center of Jefferson’s Ferry. During the pandemic Katherine again transitioned to Jefferson’s Ferry’s Skilled Nursing and Memory Care units, respectively. Kay continued to receive loving care and was well known to the nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nursing assistants, and dedicated physical, occupational, rehabilitative, and therapeutic recreation specialists. Katherine was devoted to Dr. Richard Balter who cared for Arthur until his passing and for Katherine as attending physician at Jefferson’s Ferry until Dr. Balter’s retirement in March of 2021.
Katherine had a strong faith in God. Her daily prayer was taught to all of her children; “[o]ffer up your day for the honor and glory of God.” Katherine also had particular devotion to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and St. Jude. Seven of Katherine’s children are married (Rosemary [Matthew G. Cola], Susan [Frederick J. Jinks], Diane [James F. Farrell, Jr.], Virginia [Thomas J. Hughes], Patrice [Thomas A. Banahan], David [Maureen Daly Klaum], and Arthur [Geraldine O’Keefe Klaum]). Kay and Arthur’s youngest child, Mary Kay, lived at two Catholic Charities’ residences for the developmentally disabled, Mother Seton House and Bishop Ryan House, for thirty-five years until Mary Kay’s passing in 2020.
Between 1974 and 2003, Katherine became grandmother to six grandsons and 13 granddaughters. At present, Kay also has nineteen great grandchildren and dozens of loving nieces and nephews who join in celebrating her life so well-lived. In addition to her husband and youngest daughter, Katherine is predeceased by her parents and two sisters, Margaret and Phyllis. She is survived by her loving sister, Marcella Buckley of Seaford, Virginia.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Setauket on November 26, 2022, at 10:45 AM. The family will be receiving visitors in St. James Church prior to the Mass beginning at 10:00 AM. The Mass will be live-streamed on the parish website. Immediately following the Mass, the deceased will be interred with her husband and daughter Mary Katherine, who predeceased Katherine, in St. James Cemetery immediately adjoining St. James Church.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations in Katherine’s memory may be made to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and The Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research, part of the Renaissance School of Medicine in Stony Brook, New York.
Here is a video tribute, celebrating Katherine's life: