Kate Ellen Ocean
Positive. Friendly. Gregarious. Generous. Compassionate. Fashionista. Funny. These are the words that describe Kate Ellen Ocean, who was a vibrant presence in Santa Barbara for the last six years.
We lost Kate on November 13, 2015 after a long battle with breast cancer.
Kate was born February 6, 1953 in Long Island, New York. As an adult, she lived in Los Angeles, then in Santa Barbara for many years. Her interests and her jobs were many – she worked in companies as diverse as a matchmaking service, a swim school, an antique rug importer, and clinics and physician offices.
In Santa Barbara, she worked for several medical device companies, most recently at Inogen Corp., where she was part of the Customer Service team. Kate’s keen interest in other people made her a natural for this position, which she left when her cancer made it increasingly difficult for her to work.
In the last 5 years, Kate was a constant presence at the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) and the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, not just as a patient, but also as a volunteer and continual spirit-lifter for all who were having a hard time. The BCRC and the Cancer Center both honored Kate for her efforts: the BCRC by giving her the Volunteer of the Year award and the Cancer Center by awarding Kate their Julia Main Inspiration of Hope Award. The honor is given in recognition of a cancer survivor who exemplifies courage, perseverance, and hope – someone who serves as an inspiration to others by finding their strength to cope with cancer.
Kate loved gardening and all things French (her Eiffel Towers were everywhere!). Her enduring dream was to go to Paris. Paris didn’t materialize for her, but she was able to go on a special trip to Hawaii with her friend Reggie Hepp in 2011. Through the generosity of the BCRC, the Dream Foundation, and her many friends, this became a fabulous and fun-filled trip to Turtle Bay at the North Shore of Hawaii.
Perhaps Kate’s most memorable trait was her love of people. With her warm and caring nature, the medical personnel she interacted with became her friends. She instantly bonded with everyone she met, whether it was her next-door neighbor, her car mechanic, the librarians, nurses, and receptionists at the Cancer Center, and the staff and many clients of the BCRC. She constantly baked goodies, made delicious jams, decorated the premises, brought small thoughtful gifts to her very many friends, and knew the names of everyone’s dog or cat, where their children went to school, and their favorite color.
Her energy and positive attitude were legendary.
Kate passed away peacefully at the hospice facility Sarah House in Santa Barbara, surrounded by the warmth and love of friends and the Sarah House staff.
Kate will be missed by all who knew and loved her, but she will live on in the lives of her friends who will always be imbued with her vivacious spirit.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Breast Cancer Resource Center, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, or Sarah House Santa Barbara would be greatly appreciated.
A memorial service will be held after the holidays at a date to be announced later.