Catherine May Ramirez
Catherine May Ramirez
  • April 2, 1950 - May 21, 2017
  • Centreville, Virginia

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Words have the power to declare independence, inspire a trip to the moon, or share a dream, but in trying to capture a life or one's impact on those around them, the limitations of words becomes apparent. Cathy's family and friends use the words magical, loving, caring, positive, sympathetic, empathetic, nurturing, helpful, respectful, thoughtful, sincere, honest, capable, compassionate, forgiving, graceful, generous, eclectic, warm, sassy, daring, laid back, relaxed, patient, nice, kind, traditionalist, loyal, brave, veteran, creative, dreamer, and Disneyholic to describe her. The sheer number of words speaks to the nuance of meaning and the limitation of each individually. Collectively the words only begin to capture the essence of Cathy so we must turn to actions which often speak louder.

Born April 2, 1950 she was the first daughter to Alva and Mary Headtke. Growing up in San Diego, CA, Cathy usually had one of her younger siblings - Polly, Sandy, or Eddie - following her around. After she graduated from community college she was looking for a job. She took her brother to the San Diego Fair and over the course of the day arrived at an important decision - one that set the course for the remainder of her life. When Cathy and her brother returned home that day, she told her parents that she was following in their footsteps and enlisted in the military. She chose the United States Army and a career of service to her country.

Cathy served 20 years in the Unites States Army as a dental hygienist. It is in the Army that she developed her affinity for all things German. She was stationed in Germany twice as well as Fort Sam Houston, TX; Fort Dix, NJ; Fort Stewart, GA; and Fort Polk, LA.

In October, 1984 she became wife to John Ramirez, Jr. In many ways Cathy was John's opposite, but instead of strife it brought balance. She was his biggest supporter - whether holding down the fort while he was on an extended trip overseas or sitting on the side of a marathon race course with nourishment. She understood him in ways no one ever has or ever will. She was his true partner in life and she will be missed dearly.

Also in October, 1984 she became stepmother to Lynda, John III, and Eric, respectively 11 nearly 12, 10, and 6 years old at the time. You might think becoming a soldier would present the most challenges she had to overcome but it was motherhood. It's one thing to raise children from birth; it is a completely different thing to become responsible for three older children learning to cope with a divorce. With a lot of patience, understanding, effort, and time, she became just "mom" to all three.

On September 8, 1988 she gave birth to Mary Antonia ("Toni") - her most joyful achievement. When Cathy retired from the US Army in 1992, she chose a career of service to her family. She obtained a degree in early childhood development and dedicated herself to being the best mom in the world - working at Toni's daycare, chaperoning endless school events, making dresses and costumes, being chauffeur, and serving as champion, protector and confidante.

And in November 2005 with the birth of John Skyler ("Skyler"), Cathy took on the role that she was always meant to have - Grandmother. She was blessed in this role four more times with the births of Hannah, Brady, Payton, and Adelia. Bliss is the only way to describe the time she spent with each of her grandchildren. Nothing made her happier than spending time with them and seeing them smile.

An important word missing from the list of descriptors above is that of collector. She collected miniatures for her shadow box, silver spoons from around the world, beer steins, crafting supplies, clothes, jewelry, cookbooks (though she hated to cook), Barbie dolls, T-shirts, Hard Rock Café pins, photos, and the list goes on. As we go through the collections we have begun to realize that Cathy was more than a collector of things. She was a collector of memories. As we go through these items we are reminded of the happy times we shared. The sorrow of losing her is quickly replaced with the joy of remembering her.

With faith, trust, and a little pixie dust, we will strive to apply the lessons she taught us through her actions and live the words used to describe her.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Cathy's name to one of the following 2 charities:

1. The Women in Military Service for America Foundation -

2. The Arthritis Foundation -