Cathy Boutin died yesterday morning, Thursday, December 12, at her home in Mount Vernon, following a year-long struggle with cancer. She was most recently an administrative assistant in the Office of Admissions.
A native of Seattle, where she was born on July 7, 1952, Cathy graduated from high school in Tacoma, Washington. She then worked for both Kmart and Walmart, rising to general manager of a Kmart store.
Cathy and her family moved to Mount Vernon in 1992 and, nine years later, on August 27, 2001, Cathy became a Kenyon employee. She spent all of her more than ten years at the College in the admissions office, beginning as a data-entry specialist and later serving as receptionist and campus-visit coordinator.
“Cathy greeted prospective students and their families so warmly,” said Jennifer Delahunty, dean of admissions and financial aid. “She was the face of Kenyon for so many who chose to enroll. Her passing makes us very sad, and we will miss her terribly.”
Throughout her time in Mount Vernon and at the College, Cathy developed numerous strong friendships with neighbors, with other parents of local student-athletes, and with co-workers and students at Kenyon. Among her many friends on the faculty was Wendy Singer, Roy T. Wortman Distinguished Professor of History, who remembers Cathy as a dedicated member of the community and booster of Mount Vernon High School.
“Cathy supported a well-rounded education that included both academics and sports, seeing the opportunities for transmitting leadership values on the athletic field as well as in the classroom,” Singer said. “By choice, she sent her children to Wiggin Street School and came to work at Kenyon out of her commitment to the idea of that a liberal arts education is the key to advancement and to becoming a well-rounded human being.
“Despite the fact that her own education was quite different, Cathy believed in the value of a liberal arts education for the students she met in the admissions office and also for her own family,” Singer added. “Although her background was in business, a world in which she had been successful before moving to Ohio, she shifted her professional goals in order to advance the ideals of the liberal arts at home and among the prospective students she met.”
“While most people who like kids usually mean they like babies or little ones,” said friend and admissions-office colleague Kate Brockmeyer Wilson, “Cathy loved teenagers – the least lovable in my book – and young adults. She took great care listening to prospective students, those who were already here, and her children's friends. My own nephew, a high school senior, once commented that he felt she was always listening to what he had to say.”
Of the many things for which she hopes her friend will be remembered, Wilson chose just a few. “Cathy’s love of good food and drink; her spot-on sense of humor and gift for mimicry; her fondness for Kenyon sports, especially soccer; and her affection for cats and dogs. She first met her beloved dog, Banjo, after he was found running around campus a number of years ago, mangy, painfully thin, and surviving by eating grubs. She always kept Milk Bone dog treats at her desk, and she gave one to any dog who wondered into Ransom Hall. Many professors, staff members, and prospective families loved her for that kindness.”
Cathy is survived by her mother, Shirley Cornell; her husband, Peter Boutin; her daughter, Chelsea Boutin, a student at Denison University; her son, Brian Boutin, who attends Wittenberg University; and her sister, Cheryl Loete.
Cathy’s Kenyon friends are invited to visit with her family and other friends on Saturday, December 14, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the family home, 400 East Gambier St., Mount Vernon. Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox County Animal Shelter, 285 Columbus Rd, Mount Vernon, Ohio, 43050.