Catherine Lynn (Berry) Sweum




image of Catherine Sweum

Catherine Sweum

Catherine Lynn (Berry) Sweum, 84, passed away on Friday, June 2, 2023 at her home in Lynnwood, Washington. She was a devoted wife and mother, and a rock for her family and friends. She carried numerous professional and volunteer roles throughout her lifetime; teacher, nurse, business partner, business advisor, house mother, and various capacities with Delta Gamma. Those who knew her learned to appreciate her ardent support for Huskies football.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Catherine at 1PM on Saturday, September 30, located at Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home, 11111 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle, WA (west side of Aurora/Hwy 99, look for the reception room).

Early Life & Education

Catherine (“Cathy” to many, “Lynn” to others) was born on September 15, 1938 in Bellingham, Washington to Edythe (d. 1987) and Francis (d. 1969) Berry. She spent her childhood between Mt. Vernon, Port Angeles, and other locations in Washington as her father worked as a professional log scaler and amateur painter. She spent time in her childhood snowshoeing with her folks and watching them fish in the Wenatchee River just outside the front door of the family cabin in Leavenworth. She first attended Olympia H.S. then moved to Everett, where she graduated from Everett H.S. in 1957. It was there she met Lee Sweum (b. 1936, d. 2010), who she married in 1959 while they both attended the University of Washington (UW). She graduated with a BA/English Ed., English/Biological Sciences from the UW.

Family Life, Travel & Hobbies

Cathy & Lee lived in various places around Washington through the 1960s between Seattle and Spokane before a brief time in Yorba Linda, California where they welcomed their son Paul in 1968. The family spent time in Lake Forest Park, WA and Beaverton, OR before settling in the Woodridge community of Bellevue, WA in 1977 – with her mother Edythe always nearby. Cathy and Lee served as unofficial surrogate parents to many of Paul’s friends; hosting slumber parties for the basketball team, driving backseat goofballs to Sonics games, and cheering on the sidelines at youth soccer & basketball games.

The family spent countless summers and seasons in Lake Chelan where they relaxed, spent time on the water, entertained friends, and tried to silence rowdy boys who wouldn’t fall asleep on the deck overlooking the lake. The family made numerous trips to Europe and Hawaii – with a celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary in Greece as a highlight. Cathy & Lee moved to Mill Creek, WA in 2002. Over these years in Bellevue, Lake Chelan and Mill Creek, the couple hosted and attended countless bridge parties with their social circles of dedicated friends. Lee passed in 2010, just after he & Cathy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their family.

Occupations & Delta Gamma

In the early 1960s, Cathy worked at the Virginia Mason downtown clinic, and later taught in Seattle’s Central District at Washington Junior High for several years beginning in 1965. She reprised her teaching in the suburbs of Portland, OR in the mid-1970s. After the family moved to Bellevue, WA she spent time in the 1980s as a nurse in dermatology before partnering with Lee to run the family’s manufacturing rep business ENSCO for over two decades. Initially in a co-managing capacity with Lee’s civil engineering and primary sales functions, she essentially kept the business thriving single-handedly from the mid-90s onward, as he dealt with chronic health struggles and recovery stemming from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1993. Outside of her family and the friends who showed up, the support of Delta Gamma was immeasurable during this challenging time.

In the years following her pledging Delta Gamma as a UW student, Cathy’s alumni involvement began a long association with the organization in various volunteer roles at the local and national levels – and through each opportunity, putting in selfless hours and working directly with chapter members – she cultivated deep and cherished friendships. As an alumni, her roles involved Chair of the Advisory Team for the UW chapter, President of the Beta House Corporation, and serving at the regional and national levels as Housing Director. She offered her expertise to new DG chapters and their volunteers in the effort to help them run effectively and shape them into special places. In her final role as the House Director for Beta chapter, she mentored both volunteers and collegiate members for 13 years, serving as a surrogate mother to hundreds of girls who went through the house and heard her stories of college life spanning across six decades. At her retirement celebration, DGs from all levels came to celebrate her – and to recognize her lifelong volunteer commitment to Delta Gamma – Cathy was later honored with the DG Cable Award, presented to alumnae who demonstrate unusual loyalty and devotion with Delta Gamma service far beyond normal alumni participation.

While she gave many years of her time, expertise and dedication to Delta Gamma, she would argue that she received much more in return through the love and support of this sisterhood.


After retiring to Lynnwood in 2019, Cathy did not slow down. She kept traveling to her bridge groups, and maintained the tradition of hosting Husky & Seahawks football parties for her friends. The most ardent UW fan, she kept track from memory where every Husky football player ended up as a professional. Over the decades our ears were “decorated” with “woofs” whenever a UW player scored, sacked, kicked a field goal, made a play as a pro, or generally popped onto the television screen.

As a supporter of her hometown teams, Cathy became as avid a Seahawks fan as she was with Huskies football. She attended a Sounders soccer game and Kraken hockey in their inaugural season, and her family had season tickets & personal connections to Sonics basketball during the Lenny Wilkens years. Through this deep-rooted and passionate fandom, you had the choice to either duck or run for cover as the opposition – especially if you were a WSU Cougar, Bill Walton, or seen as guilty by association to either… and now, finally, you may safely emerge from your hiding spot!

Literally into her last day, Cathy kept a busy social schedule with a phone that rang on the hour from friends & family, attending social gatherings and maintaining an independent lifestyle. You could talk with her about anything. She was a loyal friend, sharp as a tack, a cat lover (despite the woofing), a walking grammar boss, believed in education & science, backed her opinions with facts, quick-witted with the hilarious one-liner, and a sage of a sounding board providing unique insights to problem-solving. She was selfless and eager to help anyone in need. When she wasn’t socializing, she was often found deep into a book. As a mother her wisdom, love, lessons and acumen of life continue to give treasures every single day.

Celebration of Life

Cathy’s husband Leland “Lee” Arthur Sweum preceded her in 2010. She is survived by her son Paul (Kristin), cousins and family members in western Canada, in addition to numerous dear friends through her many circles. As an added cosmic joke, the Pac-12 (1915-2023) outlived her by a mere two months – and there is no actual proof (yet) that Cathy puppeteered in any sort of role (preordained, celestial or otherwise) with its demise.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Cathy at 1PM on Saturday, September 30, located at Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home, 11111 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle, WA (west side of Aurora/Hwy 99, look for the reception room). Please join us for stories, nibbles and Coke Zero! Everyone is encouraged to wear something with UW colors or of their favorite college/pro football team. Afterward a group may try to gather for a viewing party of the Washington @ Arizona football game, time & viewing location TBD.

Per her wishes, Cathy will be reunited with her husband Lee when her ashes are spread at their final resting spot in Manson Bay at Lake Chelan.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a Memorial Gift in Cathy’s honor to the Washington Talking

 Book & Braille Library for the blind and visually impaired (Seattle, WA) – a local focus of Beta chapter as part of Delta Gamma’s Service for Sight philanthropy.

One Response to “Catherine Lynn (Berry) Sweum”

  • Nancy Armstrong says:

    Such a lovely memorial for a wonderful woman. I had the privilege of working with her at the Delta Gamma house and I treasure those years.

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