Catherine Rachael Meeks Schwiebert


August 23, 1976 – July 14, 2021


image of Catherine Rachael Meeks Schwiebert

Catherine Rachael Meeks Schwiebert

Catherine was born on August 23, 1976, in Ithaca, NY as the only child of Joe and Carol Meeks. She grew up in Athens, GA where she developed a love of gymnastics, education, and language. While studying linguistics at Cornell University in Ithaca she met her future husband, Erik, during her sophomore and his senior year. They dated long-distance for two years and after she graduated, she followed him to Seattle, WA in 1998. Erik proposed to her with his grandmother’s engagement ring while they were traveling in Japan, a country and language in which they shared a mutual interest. Catherine and Erik were married in the fall of 1999 in Sage Chapel at Cornell University.

Catherine always wanted to help people, especially children. She obtained teaching certifications for both Washington State public elementary and private Montessori schools and earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Washington. She taught preschool and elementary children off and on in both public and private settings, but her true joy and calling was to be the mother of her three children. Catherine was passionate about raising her children to be kind and caring, to understand their privilege in the world and to aid those less fortunate, and to recognize their challenges and rise to face them with acceptance and courage. Catherine herself was kind, empathetic, and cared deeply for her family, her friends, and for the world around her.

Catherine endured her own tribulations, and through them found purpose in assisting other people. At various times she volunteered with Stephen Ministries at University Presbyterian Church to walk alongside people in their suffering, with Perinatal Support Washington to assist new mothers and mothers-to-be, and found it cathartic to write about her journey of faith, mindfulness, and radical acceptance through the skills of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

In late September 2020, Catherine was diagnosed unexpectedly with Stage IV colon cancer. After the shock wore off, she threw herself into engaging this new challenge. She wrestled with what it meant to be alive in the moment while most likely dying long before she could see her children grow up. Writing became a way to explore her thoughts and feelings of having cancer and she shared them with her circle of friends and supporters. Catherine held firmly to the idea of “and”- that two diametrically opposed things such as current active life and impending death could both be true, and that gave her hope and courage in the moment. Catherine lived for her children, the time she could be with them, and the lessons she could share with us. Sadly, her cancer proved to be the most aggressive her doctor had ever seen, and she quietly passed away from us on July 14, 2021, at the age of 44.

Catherine is survived by her husband Erik and her children Andrew, Rebecca (“Becca”), and Justin (“JJ”) in Seattle, WA, her mother Carol Roskey in Green Valley, AZ, her father Joe Meeks in Ithaca, NY, her parents-in-law Van and Lauren Schwiebert in Hilton Head, SC, her sister-in-law Kea Schwiebert in East Setauket, NY, and by extended family in Columbus, OH. A memorial service will be held for Catherine later this fall at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle.

Catherine would not have wanted flowers or other momentary expressions of grief and condolences, and instead would have preferred tangible support for missions dear to her heart. Donations in honor of her memory may be made to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to support cancer research, to Perinatal Support Washington to support new mothers and their mental health, to DBT-Linehan Board of Certification to train more therapists for providing DBT, and to University Presbyterian Church to support causes in and around Seattle.

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