Catherine Stuart Oeland Childs
Catherine Childs died on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at The Manor, Morrisville, VT.
Fondly known as “Catchi” to family and friends, she was born August 27, 1920 to William Henry Harrison Childs and Catherine Oeland Childs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her grandfather, Eversley Childs, was co-founder of the Bon Ami Company and a well-known philanthropist. Catchi, an only child, was raised on Long Island where her next-door neighbor was illustrator John R. Neill, best remembered for his “Wizard of Oz” characters. Mr. Neill used Catchi and his own daughters as models for “Oz” children, paying them twenty-five cents an hour, a good wage at that time. She attended Briarcliff Preparatory School and graduated from Friends Academy, Locust Valley in 1938.
She discovered her love of art while in her early teens. The family wintered in Miami Beach, Florida, and she would collect seashells on the beach and work them into place cards to sell at a Miami gift shop. She saved her profits to pay for art lessons. She ultimately studied with Paul Wood in Port Washington, Leon Kroll and Hans Hoffman in New York City, and Angelo Savelli in Italy. Art became a life-long occupation and led to a long, illustrious career. She spent many years staying in Pietrasanta where she not only painted gorgeous landscapes, but also learned print making and how to sculpt in marble. Her work has been exhibited in the United States House of Representatives and many important galleries in United States, Europe and Asia. She was a past President of the National Association of Women Artists, a past President of the New York Society of Women Artists, and a member of the Board of Directors Artists Equity. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the East, and the World Who’s Who of Women. In addition to her many memberships in important professional artistic associations, Catchi was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
With advancing age, Catchi developed another passion – rug hooking. She brought her love of color and creativity to the craft. She enjoyed attending week-long workshops up and down the East Coast, developing new friendships, and occasionally having a four generational hook-in with her daughters, grandchild, and great grandchildren. She often demonstrated the technique at the annual Cow Neck Historical Society fair. She loved calling herself a “happy hooker”.
Catchi is survived by daughter Diane Neuse of Middlebury, VT, daughter Heather Sargent of Morrisville, VT, and son, Charles E. Willis (“Trip”) of Leicester, VT.
She was predeceased by son, Jeffrey C. Willis in 1969 and by three husbands, Charles E. Willis, Jr., Donald Twomey, and Mel Fowler. She was the grandmother of eight and great- grandmother of twenty-one.
A private memorial service will be held in the Chapel at the Memorial Cemetery of St. John’s Church. Laurel Hollow, New York, with internment to follow. Charitable gifts in Catchi’s memory may be made to The National Association of Women Artists, 315 W 39th Street, Suite 508, New York, NY 10018 or the North Shore Animal League America, 25 Davis Avenue, Port Washington, NY 11050. Assisting the family is the Perkins-Parker Funeral Home in Waterbury VT. To send online condolences please visit www.perkinsparker.com or the funeral home Facebook page.