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Catherine Mary Swanson

1947 - 2016

Catherine Swanson, Director of Administrative Services at Santa Barbara nonprofit the Alliance for Living and Dying Well, died unexpectedly February 28 of a stroke. She was 68.

A four-year resident of Montecito, Catherine brought her passion for meaningful relationships and community service to her work advocating for end-of-life care services in Santa Barbara County. While directing and supporting a variety of programs and events, she helped facilitate people connecting with friends and loved ones in conversations about the relationship between life and death, and how to express their wishes about end-of-life care. She was a trained advance care planning facilitator and had completed her own advance health care directive.

Born in San Francisco and raised in southern California, Catherine was a top student at Holy Angels School in Arcadia and St. Andrews High School in Pasadena. Her training at Fuller Theological Seminary, where she earned her Master’s degree in Theology, informed her remarkable commitment to excellence in nonprofit management for organizations such as Fuller Theological Seminary, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and All Saints Church in Pasadena, as well as The Island School in Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Catherine was also a certified Master Gardener who enjoyed combining her botanical expertise with her spiritual practice to create garden retreats that fostered solace and reflection. The love of her life, her golden retriever, Dylan, was her partner during hospital visitations via Therapy Dogs International, where they brought joy to countless patients.

Her desire and skill for creating meaning, whether for large-scale events that served the community or in one-on-one conversations; her quick wit and humor; and her engaging smile that spoke of her depth and care for others will be greatly missed. She nurtured many deep and enduring friendships with her open heart and ready, listening ear.

She is survived by the sons who made her so proud to be their mom: Scott Dobbie and Drew Dobbie, his wife, Jenny, and son, Justin; her father and stepmother whose prayers and support she cherished: Neil and Doreen Riordan; her brothers: Dan Riordan and Michael Riordan (who was always there for her) and their families; her sisters, who meant the world to her: Terry Hynes, Maureen Osman, and Monica Riordan and their families; her many friends and colleagues; and her dear cat, Claire.

The family asks that all who enjoyed knowing Catherine, or Kay, as they called her, treat one another with kindness and thoughtfulness in her memory.

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