Katherine Frances Kiernan passed away July 26th, 2019 at age 77 from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease. Throughout the 10 years of her debilitating illness, she fought courageously and determinedly. She was a loving daughter, sister, wife, and mother, as well as a gifted artist. Her love of animals and of the beauty of Nature was profound. Katherine had a wonderful joyful spirit that infused everything she did. She will be terribly missed by all who came in contact with her. No one had a more beautiful smile!
Katherine was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 12th, 1942 to Henry and Katherine Kafel. She was the eldest of 3 siblings. She loved piano and at one time considered pursuing a degree in music, but instead attended Marymount Manhattan College and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. However, her love of playing the piano continued throughout her life. During her time in the bachelor’s program, she developed a lifelong interest in fine art and history. In fact, it was a graduate degree in American History that she decided to work towards at Hunter College in New York. While she was in the graduate program, she joined the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, where she met her future husband, Ken Kiernan. Theirs was a love-at-first-sight romance and they married shortly thereafter.
Job opportunities for Ken lured them to the other side of the country. They moved to Walnut Creek, CA, where their only child, Kylie, was born. Unfortunately, Kylie was born with a serious medical condition that eventually required a series of surgeries, but Katherine always remained positive and faced all challenges with cheerful determination.
After many moves, they finally settled on Santa Barbara, CA. Despite the time that had passed, Katherine was determined to finish her graduate degree. In Santa Barbara, she completed her Master’s Degree in American History from Hunter College. She worked for years as an office manager in law and retail business. She taught at Bishop Diego High School, worked for Old Spanish Days and the County Clerk Recorder’s Office. While she was there she was inspired to run for County Clerk Recorder. She was always trying to make a positive contribution to her community and the people around her.
When she retired, she and Ken traveled around the country to be near their daughter and son-in-law. It was quite an adventure that encompassed 6 states, but she always faced challenges with a smile on her face. Whether it was taking care of her parents, her daughter, or helping a complete stranger, she was a loving and caring person. We will all miss her light!
Katherine is survived by her husband, Ken Kiernan; her daughter, Kylie Kershaw (Robert); 2 brothers, Henry Kafel (Carol Prochazka) and John Kafel (Suzanne).
A viewing will be held at Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapel (15 East Sola Street, Santa Barbara) from 2-4pm on Friday, August 9. A graveside service will take place on Saturday, August 10 at 10am at Calvary Cemetery, 199 North Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Assisted Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, or the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter.