Heather Catto Kohout

  • Born: April 7, 1959
  • Died: October 17, 2014
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705

info@wcfish.com
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family


Heather Catto Kohout died on October 17, 2014, nearly three years after her initial diagnosis with metastatic cancer. She was a woman of deep faith, kindness, and physical, intellectual, and spiritual beauty; a devoted wife and mother; and a ferocious friend. Her entire life was an ongoing demonstration of how to move through the world with courage, generosity, and gratitude.

Heather was born in San Antonio, Texas, on April 7, 1959, the daughter of Henry Edward Catto Jr. and Jessica Hobby Catto. When she was ten, her father began a long and successful career in government service which took him to Washington, D.C., El Salvador, Switzerland, and London. Heather graduated from the Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, and, after a year at Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland, entered Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, from which she graduated in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in English literature.

In 1985 she married Martin Kohout, a Williams classmate. The couple spent most of their married life in Austin, with the exception of a brief sojourn in Washington, D.C. Their three children, Elizabeth, Christopher (Tito), and Thea, were Heather's constant delight and pride; her father-in-law once accused her of being an "owl mother" because she spent so much time hooting about her offspring.

Heather always took pleasure in language, literature, and interpretation. She earned master's degrees in English literature from the University of Texas at Austin and in religion from the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. She taught English at American University in Washington, D.C., and as a substitute at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin; her poems were accepted for publication in the Anglican Theological Review and Theology Today; and she was for many years on the staff of Seton Cove, an ecumenical center for spiritual formation in Austin.

A longtime parishioner at All Saints' Episcopal Church, Heather for many years led an informal adult-education group, known as "Heather's Heretics," to discuss each Sunday's lectionary readings. She also taught a number of "freelance" classes and workshops at various local churches and served as a trustee of St. Andrew's, Casa Marianella, El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. In 2013 she received the Durstan R. McDonald Teaching Award from the Seminary of the Southwest and the Charles Alan Wright Excellence Award from St. Andrew's.

She was a gifted and creative cook and a regular customer at Austin's farmers markets and urban farms. She was an excellent athlete: a relentlessly speedy hiker who earned the nickname "Death March" among her family, a fierce yet graceful skier and tennis player, and a dedicated rower who loved the beauty and solitude of an early morning on Lady Bird Lake and forged deep connections with her fellows at the Texas Rowing Center. She was a passionate environmentalist and an enthusiastic birder; she liked to joke that she was the best birder she knew, because every time she went out she invariably discovered a "new" species.

Heather's environmental concerns and her love of literature and the creative arts, which she shared with her husband Martin, inspired them to open a residency program for environmental writers and artists at their ranch near Medina, Texas, beginning in 2011. Madroño Ranch: A Center for Writing, Art, and the Environment has hosted more than forty creative thinkers from around the U.S. and elsewhere, and has been featured in Tribeza magazine.

In addition to her husband and children, she is survived by her siblings John Catto, Will Catto, and Isa Catto Shaw; her sisters-in-law Laurel Catto and Kristina Catto; her brother-in-law Daniel Shaw; her beloved nieces and nephews Sophie Catto, Ian Catto, Jessica Catto, Liam Catto, Mikaela Catto, Gwyneth Catto, Fiona Shaw, and Duncan Shaw; and father- and mother-in-law Franz Kohout and Nancy Otto.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 209 West 27th Street, Austin, on October 23, 2014. In accordance with her wishes, her family will bury her ashes at her beloved Madroño Ranch.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Hill Country Alliance (http://www.hillcountryalliance.org), the Trail Foundation (http://www.thetrailfoundation.org), or All Saints' Episcopal Church (http://www.allsaints-austin.org).


Services


Condolence & Memory Journal

So sorry to hear about Heather's passing. I did not know her well but whenever I bumped into her on the dock I took the opportunity to learn from her as she was my resource for learning about all of the beautiful birds around Town Lake.

Her knowledge and love for the birds was contagious and her passion and warmth came through in those brief conversations. My days were always better for having spoken with her.

Take solace in knowing that she now soars with the birds she so loved.

Posted by John B. - Austin, TX - Friend   November 14, 2014

I am so very sorry to hear of Heather's passing. I no longer live in Texas, but I remember always searching the dock for Heather when I rowed in the mornings. She was one of my favorite people to talk to - about books, family, writing, health, just about anything. It's hard to believe she's gone. I will miss her warmth, kindness, mirth and easy laugh. She was a beautiful soul...

Posted by Jennifer Newcomb Marine - Eugene, OR - friend and fellow rower   November 01, 2014

I remember Heather from Seminary days there in Austin. She was always a standout to me, above and beyond in compassion and kindness--the marks of God's holy ones! Now we can be blessed
by her from the fullness of God's Kindom.

Posted by Jenny Russell - Boerne, TX   October 29, 2014

Several years ago I experienced a serious loss in a relationship; Heather happened to be at TRC. She immediately knew I was extremely upset and said "let's walk" and we did so for several hours. I will never forget her kindness in my time of need.

In sum, Heather was a person of kindness, intellect and sincerity! May you find solace in her greatness!
Dr. Maria Shelton

Posted by Maria shelton - College station, TX - Friend and rower   October 28, 2014

This was devastating news to hear. Heather was a child of nature, and I remember her with her children, smiling , laughing and always being a calm in the center of a storm, a ballast for those who ended solace. May she join Henry and Jessica and rest peacefully , knowing she was loved by all.
Ellen Susman

Posted by A friend   October 26, 2014

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I was honored to share silence and conversation with Heather as part of the Friday morning meditation group at Seton Cove. Even though I knew her for only a brief time her memory will be strong and lasting.

Posted by Mona West - Austin, TX - Friend   October 23, 2014

Heather was such a dear friend and source of encouragement, challenge and joy during our time together in seminary. She made a difference in my life and so many others. She helped make the Kingdom of God happen. Heather's Life will reverberate forever.

Posted by Robert Woody - San Antonio, TX   October 22, 2014

I first met Heather back in 2008 when her and I had a meeting at Swedish Hill Bakery. We had several meetings there as she always told me that was one of favorite places to go in town. Over the years, I had various meetings and encounters with Heather and I always enjoyed hearing her stories, she always told them with much enthusiasm. One story which sticks out is that she attended Williams College with Mark Tercek, The Nature Conservancy's President. She told me that she had a small crush on him in College. In 2008 when she read be was TNC's new President she looked twice to make sure it was him. We both laughed and she said "the world is definitely a small place."

More importantly, what I remember most about Heather is her absolute passion or conservation and her love for birding, although she always told me that she was not good at it, but I never believed her.

We will definitely miss Heather. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all her family and friends.

Posted by Kara Kokotas Smith - Austin, TX - Acquaintance at TNC   October 21, 2014

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Dear Martin and family,

Heather was a beautiful woman, inside and out. We were blessed to have known her. May you find peace in her memory and joy in your conitnuing love of her. Our thoughts are with you always.

Mark & Louise Michaud

Posted by Mark & Louise Michaud - Austin, TX - acquaintance   October 21, 2014

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Meus sentimentos a toda família.

Posted by Maria Nagel - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Friend   October 21, 2014

Love you Heather, and all your lovely family. I am still learning from your graciousness. I will think of you often with a full heart and someday I'll be able to smile when I do, hopefully soon. Your laugh was the best.

Posted by Jennifer Tollefson - Austin, TX   October 20, 2014

I was so saddened to here of the Kohout family's loss. My thoughts and prayers pour out to Heather's family and loved ones. Our earth has lost someone who acted as the hands and feet of Christ, and our loss is Heaven's gain. God bless, LLowry

Posted by A friend   October 20, 2014

Leave a condolence or a memory.

Posted by Hannah - Austin, TX - Friend   October 20, 2014

Leave a condolence or a memory.

Posted by Hannah - Austin - Friend   October 20, 2014

A number of people remember my time as the public services librarian at the Seminary of the Southwest as being marked by Christmas clementines. These small delicious oranges first appeared on my counter as a gift from Heather Kohout. She just dropped off a case of them -- "because they're my favorite." I recognized the perfectness of her gift and made it an annual affair. Heather was like that, a person who motivated others to make the world better. She'll be so missed.

Posted by Mikail McIntosh-Doty - Austin, TX   October 20, 2014

Dear Ones,
My heart is broken. Heather was extraordinary in every way I can think of that matters….and now, there is a big hole where she was, though the wider worlds, the deeper heaven, aren't feeling the loss of her, since there, she is found…the wonderful Heather, her splendid self, her rumbling laugh, her "heretical" bigness of heart finally finding that her certainty of Love was right all along. I hope we all finally come to share that "heresy" with her. Until then, it was an unmeasured privilege to be her friend. In my life, there have only been a very few who LIVED what it means to be here…."I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." I thank the Beloved for such a one in the world. We will miss her shiny self. But so much joy has radiated out from her dropping into our lives, that now the joy has taken root and lives with her vibrance, and passion, and humor…..having grown so big that she's all around us, and will be "in saecula saeculorum".
with love,
sally

Posted by sally robb - austin, TX   October 20, 2014

So very sorry to hear about your loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with your entire family.

Posted by Ray and Lucille Milani - Atwater, CA - Nancy's sister and husband   October 20, 2014

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I didn't know Heather as well as I would have like to, but I felt I knew her through being at the ranch and her home helping Lo with decorations for the Christmas parties and keeping the ranch beautiful and to her liking. I know she loved color, diversity, her family, plants, and animals! I can only imagine how her presence will always be felt in the many ways and many places she graced. She was so strong and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with me.

Posted by Leslie Cash Jobe - Austin, TX - Friend   October 19, 2014

Dear family of Heather. I had heard she was ill and so saddened to hear of her passing. I met Heather in my store years ago, along with her parents Martin, and other family members. Once it felt like they were were having a family reunion there. Jessica called the girls over and said with great seriousness, "I have something to tell you." Everyone looked concerned. She said, "I have bought another house." We all breathed a sigh of relief. Just a house.
I said to Heather, "My mother, too, was always buying a new house" to which she replied, "but did she keep them all!". We all laughed.

On another occasion, Jessica called from Colorado to say she would be in for thanksgiving and would like to stop by the store and would we be open. She then asked that if I saw Heather later that day, would I please tell her she would be there for the holiday. I called Heather to let her know to set two more plates. :-)

I always had fun finding myself in the middle of these conversations. I love those memories of these special people.

Martin, I am so sorry, for you and the children, and in fact all of us, that Heather had to go so young. She had so much yet to offer this world. To Isa and her brothers, my heart goes out to you in the loss of a sibling. I have four and can't imagine life without our sibling-tribe. And so soon after your parents passing. Your father was a gem of a man as well. He would bring my salesgirls flowers when your mother "brought" him shopping. They all three left a warm spot in all of our lives.

I'm glad to have known them all. I hope it helps for you all to know how much they were appreciated by just the everyday people in their lives.

Truly, I offer my deepest sympathies,

Trey

Posted by Trey Massengale - Austin, TX - A lucky friend   October 19, 2014

So sorry to hear about your loss. I didn't know Heather well at college but clearly she was a very special person. I've been thinking about your family all day, 'holding you in the light.'

Posted by Ruth Glasser - Oakville, CT   October 19, 2014

Heather will be remembered and missed by many. My deepest condolences to all of Heather's friends and family.

Posted by A friend   October 19, 2014

May God bless you and give your family strength and peace in this time of your sorrow. ... Charlie Coward

Posted by Charlie Coward - Round Rock, TX   October 19, 2014

Deepest sympathy and condolences to Heather's family and loved ones. I have beautiful and lasting memories of Heather from long ago at Williams College. She was a truly wonderful person.

Posted by Marc Tayer - Del Mar, CA   October 19, 2014

I first met Heather in 1977, our freshman year at Williams. We were both in Lehman Hall, the smallest freshman dorm which was cut off from the rest of the campus that year by construction. Lehmanites spent a lot of time with each other that year, gravitating to each other's tables at Baxter Hall, the freshman dining room, and often congregating at night in the room of Junior Advisors on the women's side to simply commune. Heather was always one of the most dynamic people in that group, sometimes holding forth, but as often laughing uproariously at someone else's story or joke with her infectious guffaw. Heather was great company. But over the years, Heather also proved to be one of those most precious of individuals, someone who could always be counted on to listen sympathetically, counsel wisely, and above all else, simply be a friend. I was so happy for Martin when he won her hand, and so happy for her that she had found someone who would love her as she deserved to be loved. Seeing them again was the highlight of my own return to Williams seven years ago. I will think of her often in the years to come, and hope to remember her someday with Martin. Martin, I wish you and your children all the courage in the world at this difficult time.

Posted by Arun Swamy - Yona, Guam   October 19, 2014