Catherine Harding Davis

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Catherine DavisCatherine Harding Davis was born on October 26, 1944, to Aleen Bird Harding and Charles Laban Harding in New York City and passed away peacefully on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, surrounded by love and family following a brutal and brave battle with pancreatic cancer. Cathy was a magnificent wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She spent “56 years of magic” married to William C. Davis, the great and true love of her life. She absolutely relished her role as the extraordinary mother of her daughter, Elizabeth, and her son, William, and as ultra-loving “Grammy” of Maddie, Hannah, Gracie, and Cameron. Cathy was a true friend, earning her both lifelong and new friends from a broad geographic, age, faith, and socioeconomic spectrum.

Her life was characterized by service, faith, and love, which she shared liberally in small and simple ways without fanfare throughout her entire life. She lived her faith by developing an extraordinary ability to see the needs of others and ministering to them by feeding, visiting, and welcoming the sick, weary, lonely, and sad, among many others, into her home. This practice was at the core of her 78 years as a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She truly lived the principle put forth by St. Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” For Cathy, words were rarely necessary–rather, her goodness spread organically as she was constantly engaged in a good cause. She took on a multitude of roles at her church, leading the women and the children across the region as well as within her local congregation; but she didn’t stop there. She fully engaged in her community, and when Cathy committed, she committed. She was a woman with a plan, always busy with an “energizer-bunny-vibe” of sorts, with places to go, things to do, and people to see.

After 10 years at home raising her kids, she felt she had “more love to give”, so she spent the next 25 years as an exceptional kindergarten teacher. While she never sought formal or public recognition for anything she did, she received the Teacher of the Year Award from the State of Connecticut in 2005. Cathy left this world rich in family, friends, and community…the very things in which she invested her life, her time, her talents, her boundless energy, and, most importantly, her love. Those who had the privilege to count themselves among the multitude of recipients of her goodness will praise her name for generations to come and will proudly carry her remarkable legacy forward.


Catherine Bee Harding was born on October 26, 1944, to Aleen Bird Harding and Charles Laban Harding in New York City, a city that she loved throughout her life. She was the middle child of two siblings, Marianna (11 years her senior) and Charles, who was intellectually disabled. Her father passed away when she was eight years old and, with her older sister in college and her younger brother living in a care facility, this left her and her mother home alone. Cathy’s mom raised her while battling cancer for decades and defying the odds by living until the age of 76. Cathy treasured those years and regarded that time with her mom as one of the great blessings of her life. She has wonderful memories of them spending days together in the city, having lunch, and going to the theater and to the Rockettes, a tradition that she later passed on to her own children and grandchildren. As a single mom, Cathy’s mother instilled in her a commitment to education and self-sufficiency, so she headed to Ohio Wesleyan for college in 1962, where she met William C. Davis, the great love of her life. After graduating in June 1966, the two were married a few months later in September. Cathy once said that “her happily ever after started that day” and she was right. For 56 years, Cathy and Bill shared a deep love, partnership, and best-friendship that inspired, brightened, and set a high bar for anyone who knew them.

Catherine DavisAfter they were married, Cathy and Bill headed to New York City, where they lived on 109th Street in a tiny roach-infested apartment that they adored while Cathy got her master’s degree in Education at Columbia University and Bill got his master’s degree in Music at NYU. While they had very little money, they created happy memories during this time, including buying $1.50 tickets to sit in the very back row and see the symphony perform at Lincoln Center. They walked the shut-down streets of NYC during the blizzard of 1967, were serenaded daily by a would-be opera singer who lived in their apartment building, and lived on eggs, hot dogs, and canned soup. They also visited her mom in Manhasset, New York, every weekend, coming home with bags of “leftovers” that helped stretch the budget.

With the Vietnam War in full swing, Bill followed his family’s proud military tradition and signed up for ROTC. In 1967, with their Master’s Degrees in tow, they headed to Castle Air Force base in California where Bill began his active duty and Cathy got her first teaching job. Four years later, just as Bill completed his 4-year military commitment, they received a call that, after years of waiting, they were finally going to be able to adopt their daughter, Elizabeth Ann Davis. Four years after that, they were thrilled to adopt their son, William Harding Davis. During this time, they headed back east to Enfield, Connecticut, and then Watertown, Connecticut, where they lived for 32 years.

At this pivotal time, Cathy dove headfirst into her long-awaited role of full-time mother which was, for her, a lifelong dream. For the next 10 years, she focused her time on raising her kids and, in the process, building lifelong relationships with her children and with women in her neighborhood with whom she would gather every single Friday to “play bridge”. Once her kids were in school full-time, Cathy decided that she had “more love to give,” so she started teaching again, which queued up 22 years as a gifted and locally famous kindergarten teacher in Watertown, Connecticut. She was the teacher that every informed parent wanted to teach their child. Her classroom embodied her energy, creativity, fun, and light. In truth, it was a space steeped in love where everyone (of any age) wanted to be and where no one wanted to leave. She worried about the kids who struggled and innovated ways to help them succeed while developing new methods to challenge those who were ahead of the pack. She was way ahead of her time, creating a system where all this could happen concurrently without separating kids by “capability.”

In 2005, Cathy retired and moved with Bill to the “family homestead” in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. During these wonderful retirement years, she became a gifted creator–although she never would have characterized herself that way. She created voluminous flower and vegetable gardens and learned how to knit beautiful clothing and make legendary quilts and appliques that adorned and enlivened many a body, table, bedroom, and wall. During this time, she engaged with the community of Fitzwilliam, joining knitting and quilting groups as well as the Garden Club and Zoning Board. She helped organize the annual plant sale and the Strawberry Festival in town, which, fittingly, will be held this year in her honor.

Catherine DavisIn the end, Catherine left this world for the next rich in family, friendship, and community because that’s where she invested her time on earth. While she never considered herself remarkable by any measure, her remarkable legacy will be carried forward by her loving husband, William C. Davis, her daughter Elizabeth Davis-Edwards (and her husband Christopher), her son, William Harding Davis (and his wife Deidre) her four grandchildren, Madeline Davis Edwards Rodriguez (and her husband Colby), Hannah Edwards, Grace Edwards, and Cameron Davis, as well as her sister Marianna Wilks, Jesse and Christine Weldon and their sons John and Connor, and many loving nieces and nephews.

Cathy’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 17, 2023, at 4 pm ET at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 130 Summit Road Keene, New Hampshire.

For those who can’t attend in person, they can attend online through Zoom.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to:

Fitzwilliam Historical Society
c/o Dick Goettle, Treasurer
P.O. Box 87
Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire 03447

Fitzwilliam Garden Club
c/o Leisa Perrota, Treasurer
783 Old Homestead Highway
Swanzey, NH 03446

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