Catherine West (Lyle)

West, Catherine Elaine (Lyle) 93 08/08/1916 02/03/2010 Her quiet death befitted a quiet life lived with great spirit. When still a young woman, Catherine "Kay" was a medal-winning swimmer and diver, wrote music, won writing contests with her short stories, walked across a frozen Willamette River and learned to tap dance at a dance studio where she was hired to play piano during the Depression. In later years, she was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader and a positive influence on many young girls who sought her counsel. She sewed, knitted and crocheted. She ran the kitchen at her church, making as many as 30 pies while also preparing the rest of the meal served at large gatherings. She loved to hike and fish for trout in the streams around Mount Hood and her favorite place was the retreat on the Salmon River that she and her husband owned. Self-taught, she could identify every tree, wildflower or bird she encountered. She spent her last years in an apartment at Holladay Park Plaza that faced her beloved Mount Hood. For almost all of her adult life she entertained small or large groups with her piano playing. She had the uncanny ability to play, by ear, any song she ever heard in any key. Kay held firm opinions and beliefs, which for the most part she kept to herself. But if her opinion was solicited, the one posing the question was left with no doubt as to where, exactly, she stood; dissimulation was totally foreign to her. She did not suffer fools gladly nor acts of greed or unkindness. But those who merited her friendship or support were treated with great kindness and generosity. She was to have acquired her great drive and iron will from her grandfather, John Lace, a teen-aged British merchant seaman who jumped a sailing ship in Astoria and became an Oregonian and American citizen. Catherine Elaine Lyle was born in Portland, attended Sellwood Grade School and Girl's Polytechnic and Washington high schools. Following her graduation, she received a letter from Reed College inviting her, based on her academic record, to apply for admission. The economic situation made this impossible - the Great Depression was at its worst - so her formal education ended. She kept the letter for the rest of her life. In 1938, she married Robert L. West; he died in 1978. They had two children. Her son, Dennis L. West, preceded her in death in December. She is survived by her daughter, Elaine West Durst; and grandson, John Todd West. Catherine's brother, Curtis Lyle, died in 1984. Per her request, expressed with characteristic firmness, there will be no service. A family celebration of her life will be held in her favorite season, spring. Remembrances to the Audubon Society of Portland or Westminster Presbyterian Church.