After a long life well lived, Kathrine Margaret McLaughlin (nee Friesen) passed away peacefully at Vancouver General Hospital at the age of 90 after a massive stroke. Her family was by her side during her final days of life. Her beloved husband, Charles McLaughlin, predeceased her. Her children Colleen McLaughlin Barlow and Kathleen Elder and their families, the family of Kathrine's deceased sister, Elvira Butler and Kathrine's siblings, Rita McCunn, John Friesen, Rene Watt and their families survive her. Kathrine was the much-loved matriarch of a diverse tribe.
The eldest of six children, Kathrine was born in a log cabin in Sardis, BC in 1928 where her Mennonite Brethren parents William and Margaret Friesen (nee Baerg) were fleeing the effects of the Russian Revolution. She grew up in the Fraser Valley, where her father ran Greendale Motors. She went to Chilliwack High School. Her mother died of a familial heart disease, IHSS, when Kathrine was only 17. Her father later married Helen Reimer and had a second family, Rita, John and Rene, so that the original three sisters Kathrine, Olga and Elvira had three more siblings. As a young woman, Kathrine moved to Vancouver and began work at Woodward's Department store. Rising through the administrative ranks, Kathrine eventually was the executive who interviewed men for the store's internal employment office. One day her secretary came into her office just before lunch to announce there was another candidate waiting to be interviewed, and 'he was really good looking with an Australian accent!' Kathrine agreed to see him and assigned Charles McLaughlin (recently arrived from Australia) a temporary job swamping trucks. He returned for other part time jobs at Woodward's and asked her out. Initially she refused him but one day he invited her to fly with him to Nanaimo. He had been doing part time jobs at Woodward's to afford more flying time towards a commercial pilot's license and had just signed on with Canadian Pacific Airlines. So they flew to Nanaimo in a small floatplane. Charles was nervous and miscalculated the fuel and had to do a dead stick landing off the dock in Nanaimo. Kathrine had never flown before and thought it was normal to cut power and just glide in. A year later they were married. They had an interesting and glamorous life together travelling together as CP Air grew and developed different bases throughout the world. They travelled extensively on free airline passes with their two daughters Colleen and Kathleen visiting Hawaii, Australia, South America, the Orient and Europe. In 1971, they left Vancouver for the base in Toronto for two decades but then returned to Vancouver. During her time in Ontario, Kathrine studied interior decorating at Sheridan College and after graduating, opened up her own design consultancy 'Designs by Kathrine'.
A warm and loving person, Kathrine had a very strong personal faith in Jesus Christ and was adamant that she did not want extreme medical interventions at the end of her life. The family agreed to her wishes and for the last five days of her life, she received comfort care from the competent and caring staff at Vancouver General Hospital. In keeping with her wishes, cremation has taken place. There will be a Memorial at the University Golf Club in West Point Grey near the UBC campus on June 23 at noon. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) would be appreciated.
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