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Catherine  Fordtran Thompson Zelsman

Obituary for Catherine Fordtran Thompson Zelsman

September 2, 1926 - January 14, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 90


Catherine Zelsman died peacefully at home on January 14, 2017 at the age of 90. She was born on September 2, 1926 in Houston, Texas to Evelyn Straughan Thompson and William Fordtran Thompson. She was the second of four daughters.

Catherine attended Montrose Elementary, Lanier Junior High and graduated from Lamar High School in 1943. Known as Kay Way to many, a number of her life long friendships were made with the Houston Bridge Club that they started at Lanier Junior High. She entered Rice Institute, where she was a member of the Pallas Athene Literary Society, and graduated in 1946 with a Bachelor of Arts in French and a minor in Chemistry. While attending Rice, she met her husband, Robert Frank Zelsman. They were married on July 23, 1946 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston.

Catherine and Bob began their married life in Amarillo, Texas, where she gave birth to four daughters. Bob's professional career took them to Austin, Texas in 1968. Catherine was very engaged with a number of organizations including The Junior Leagues of Amarillo and Austin. She was a founding member of the Austin Junior League Sustainer's Garden Club. She was very active at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd where she served on the Vestry and was the Chair of the Altar Guild.

Catherine had a lust for learning and a love for travel. Her desire and determination for learning led her to become conversant in a number of languages and accomplished in the history and cultures of many countries around the world to which she and Bob traveled. She was a competitive athlete and excelled at any sport she attempted. Among her sporting accomplishments were a hole in one at Austin Country Club and the ladies singles champion at Tarry House. Many wonderful times with great friends were had on the tennis courts at Tarry House, on the golf course at Austin Country Club and Horseshoe Bay, and at the dinner table at The Headliners Club and Tarry House. Catherine particularly enjoyed music including the opera and symphony. She learned to play the piano at an early age and taught herself to play the accordion much later in life.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Anne Thompson Rollin and Mary Evelyn Thompson, and her daughter Catherine Mayo Zelsman. She is survived by her husband, her sister Mary Louise Kuhlmann, her daughter Mary Zelsman Winsett and her husband Owen Winsett, her daughter Anne Zelsman Coskey and her husband Jay Coskey, and her daughter Martha Zelsman Carnes and her husband Mark Carnes. Affectionately called Gigi, she is also survived by her seven grandchildren: Robert Ewing Winsett, Anne Merrill Winsett, William Owen Winsett, Frank Thompson Winsett, Julia Coskey Cole, Andrew Zelsman Coskey, and Hannah Moran Carnes, as well as many nieces and nephews.

The family extends heartfelt thanks to her caregivers: Rhodel, Charity, Lynn, Jeannie and Patty.

A memorial service celebrating her life will be held at two o'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday, January 17th at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd or the charity of your choice.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd or the charity of your choice.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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