I think that most of my children know little of our Aunt Katherine and I am certain that their children know nothing of her. She was Grandpa Bill’s sister and a part of my early life.
I was reminder of her recently when her daughter, Malia, contacted me. I had lost track of Malia but she kept in touch with Grandma and Grandpa and e-mailed me this past Christmas. In our conversation she asked if I had any pictures of her mom as she had none and I went digging in my stuff to see what I could find.
And that got me thinking. All of you could use pictures of Aunt Katherine. It’s a good time to introduce Malia and your Aunt to you.
Katherine was born on May 3rd 1921 (we think) in the large master bedroom over the living room of the Marr House on Glover Road in Fort Langley. She grew up in Fort Langley and Murrayville with Grandpa Bill.
Bill and Katherine’s mom died in about 1937 and Dr. Marr a year later which turned their world upside down. And then of course Grandpa went off to the war in 1939. When her folks died Katherine was 18 or so and she went to live with the Thompsons. Dr. Ben Marr’s sister Margaret had married Fred Thompson and they lived in Portland Oregon. I remember visiting them when I was very young. And so Katherine ended up in the United States.
Bill and Katherine outside the house on Glover Road, Fort Langley
She got a job in the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, during the war, and afterwards ended up in San Francisco working for Chevron.
I know that she was around in New Westminster after the war because I have pictures of her in New Westminster and I remember her around the house on 2nd Street. In particular, I remember her playing the piano and she was very good at it, at least to my young ears. Whenever I hear Copin on the piano, I think of her.
But I was young and I cannot recollect how long she stayed or where she was living. In the late fourty’s Katherine was back in the United States, possibly she never left and was only visiting us, and she and a girlfriend took a freighter to Hawaii for a vacation. In those days there were no real cruise ships and many freighters would take a dozen or so passengers to earn extra money. Remember, this is before reliable air travel, especially over open stretches of ocean. And flying was very expensive.
That began her love affair with Hawaii. She was able to arrange a job in Honolulu through Chevron or an affiliate and moved to the island in the early fifties. That is where she met Harold Robinson. He had moved to Hawaii in 1939 and enlisted in the American Forces after Pearl Harbour. Malia says they married in 1959 but I stayed with them in 1958 in their house in Waimanalo so I’m not sure of the date.
Their house was wonderful. It was situated right on the beach and in those days the town was small and sleepy. Their yard was a mass of greenery with banana and other fruit trees. My summer with them was magic. Many mornings I would drive with Harold along the ocean road into Honolulu but in those days, unlike now, it was a drive through the country. It was magic.
Mark and Malia were adopted. I am not surprised because Dr. Marr took in a couple of children under his wing through the years and Katherine would have learned at home to reach out and to love children. Mark was adopted in March of 1962 and Malia in June of 1962.
Katherine developed cancer and died in January of 1988. Harold died a year later of cancer as well. Because of Harold’s war service, they are both buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific (called the “Puchbowl” in Honolulu because it is in an extinct volcano cone) in Honolulu.
So that is your Aunt Katherine. I’ll find more information and post it when I can.
Post Update – 12 May 2014
Malia has sent me this picture of Katherine. It is taken outside the house that Dr. Marr built in Murrayville. This photo was taken probably in 1939. It was just as the war was beginning. Lloyd and Katherine’s mom had died and their father followed very soon after that. That left them alone in 1938.
When Grandpa Bill (Lloyd) was called up by the army in 1939 that left Katherine alone. So she went to Portland to stay with the Thompsons. Fred Thompson had married a sister of Dr. Marr’s and they lived in the US. That was the beginning of Katherine’s involvement and eventual citizenship in the United States.