By: Saraana Jamraj
After 76 years of following her heart, dedicating herself to her community, and inspiring those around her, Tamarac resident, Catherine Joy Kearns passed away.
Kearns, who was lovingly known as “Cate,” lived in the Lime Bay community of Tamarac. She was born in Baldwin, New York, and moved to Florida in 1964. She was notable in Tamarac, for having served in education, being part of various nature societies and clubs, and was a member of the Tamarac Sheriff’s “posse.”
“My Mom loved South Florida. She loved giving back in meaningful ways that made a difference for people, that is mostly what she wanted, to be a needful part in making people’s lives better, in being helpful,” said her daughter Kara Ann Kearns.
Cate met her husband, Edward Joseph Kearns, in a small Fort Lauderdale alteration shop. He came to fix the zippers on his shorts, and she was the seamstress who helped him. After a year of courtship and flowers being sent to the shop, her aunt encouraged her to finally go out with him, despite her reservations that, being a boat captain, he might be playing the field.
They traveled the Caribbean on his boat as he competed in sports fishing tournaments, and got married. Together, they raised their daughter, Kara, and stayed together until he passed away from a stroke.
Cate was a stay-at-home mother until 1985, where she poured time and love and energy into raising her daughter.
“When I was a child, we didn’t have a local Girl Scout Troop with room for more girls. To fix this, my Mom started her own troop. I still have her leader pins,” said Kara.
Cate took them camping, helped them earn their certifications in canoeing and first-aid, and volunteered at the Broward Humane Society.
Her love for service spilled over into her career when she began to work as a clerk for Broward County Public Schools in 1985. Cate drove a car with the Broward Sheriff’s Office Citizens Observers Patrol (COPS) for several years, as well as participated in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Nature held a special place in Cate’s heart. She taught herpetology at the Museum of Discovery and Science, she hiked a large portion of the Florida Trail, and while earning a Florida Master Naturalist certification.
Curiosity and creativity were often the intersections at which Cate lived—she was a reiki master, a stained glass artist, and a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
Those who loved her associated cloud formations and the love of nature so much with her, that when they saw interesting cloud formations on their travels, they would send her pictures.
Last year, they discovered that she had inoperable cancer, and while her health suffered in her final days, she was surrounded by loved ones, including Kara and her friends from the Newcomers Club.
Cate is survived by her daughter Kara. She will be honored at a sunrise memorial on Sunday, February 16. at 6:30 am on the beach at Ocean Manor Beach Resort 4040 Galt Ocean Dr, Fort Lauderdale.
Instead of flowers, Cate requested that a donation be made to Heifer International to help people in need gain sustainable food sources. Donations will be collected at the memorial.
- Saraana Selene Jamraj is a writer, activist, and a student pursuing her master's degree in mass communications at Florida International University.
She's currently the communications manager at The Salt Box in Parkland and has lived in Coral Springs since 2004.
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