Kathleen “Kaye” Blank, who passed on peacefully, December 19, 2020 was 94 years old. She was virtually surrounded by her loving family and supported by the devoted staff at Scalabrini Villa, North Kingstown, RI. Kathleen actively participated in Mass and the Rosary Group there. She was always ready to contribute to the conversation and activities while greeting everyone warmly with a positive comment.
Kaye will be remembered for her wit, beauty, compassion, and iron will. She enjoyed the company of her friends and family as well as a good practical joke. With her red hair and classic Irish beauty, she was often compared to Kate Hepburn. She had the energy of a dynamo, a force to be reckoned with and the courage of her convictions. What a life!
Kaye was born in June, 1926, in Newry, County Down, Ireland, the daughter of John MacElroy of County Monaghan and Margaret “Madge” Geary of Glasgow, Scotland. Kathleen lived on the family Home Place known as Corgreagh, County Monaghan. She emigrated with her mother and sister to New York City in 1931, at age 5 where they were reunited with her father, who had arrived in New York two years earlier. He had established a business and home for them in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Throughout her life, Kaye remained faithful to her Irish heritage and passed that fealty on to her children who were regularly serenaded by great Irish Tenors and the Clancy Brothers while growing up. While attending a Wolftones performance in her late 70’s, Kaye surprised her grandchildren by rising to sing the Irish national anthem in Gaelic.
Kaye quickly adapted to life in New York. She attended Notre Dame Academy for girls and graduated in 1944. In 1948, Kathleen graduated from Hunter College where she studied language and became proficient in Spanish, French, Greek and Latin. It was there she met her lifelong friend Barbara Colety. While attending a mixer with Miss Coultey at Fordham University, she was introduced to a handsome young Yale student from Pelham Manor, N.Y., Charles “Charlie” Blank, who would become her husband. Charles was a good friend of Yale classmate Thomas Amatruda who later married Barbara Colety. Upon graduating from Hunter, Kaye took a teaching position in the New York City Schools.
Kaye and Charlie were married on July 1, 1950. They began a family as Charles worked as an electrical engineer and attended Fordham Law School focusing his career in Patent Law. After a brief period in Queens, the couple moved their four young children to Huntington Station on Long Island, where the family grew to seven children.
Kaye was an active parishioner at St. Hugh of Lincoln in Huntington Station where she was a member of the Ladies Sodality Group as she chauffeured her children to all their activities. She was their biggest fan, even if it meant leaving the gym when they wrestled!
After taking time to raise her growing family, Kaye returned to teaching in the Half Hollow Hills School District on Long Island. For over twenty years Kaye taught kindergarten and elementary school before retiring. Kaye was passionate about her students and worked long hours after school and at night to make sure they got her best.
In 1960, after several years of renting vacation homes in West Dennis on Cape Cod, Kaye and Charles built a summer home there. Summers on the Cape began the day school ended and lasted until Labor Day. All the children share her love for the Cape. Wednesday night beach parties with neighborhood families were a family favorites as were Chatham band concerts.
In 2000, Kaye and Charlie moved to Warwick, Rhode Island, where her daughters Jeanne and Mary Kaye lived and whose families assisted in caregiving. During her time in Warwick, Kaye was an active parishioner at St. Rita’s and was a regular at the annual church fair, knitting and crocheting with their ladies’ groups.
Charles passed in 2003. Kaye is survived by her brother Eugene, of Williamsburg, VA. and her children, Kathleen Blank Cicala, (Marty Gaw) of Salt Point NY, Charles (Roberta) of Cuero, TX, Peter of Hampton Bays, NY, Christopher (Patricia) of Sleepy Hollow, NY, Laurence of Greenlawn, NY, and Mary Kaye Stewart (Douglas) of Warwick and Irene Keane. Her eldest daughter Jeanne Stowe (S. Christopher) passed in 2019.
Kaye was adored by each of her twenty-three grandchildren and twenty-nine great-grandchildren. She enjoyed their company and took great pride in their successes. Her grandchildren are Brian Stowe, Fr. Gregory Stowe, Elizabeth Stowe Fennell, Nicholas Cicala, Steven Cicala, Caitlin Cicala Keenan, Daniel Blank, Diana Blank Torres, David Blank, Donna Blank DiCenso, Douglas Blank, Jennifer Blank Cain, Sheri Blank, Rebecca Blank Cates, Sheila Blank Gallagher, Tracey Blank, Karen Blank-Hill, Kevin Blank, Dylan Blank, Andrew Stewart, Jonathan Stewart, Charles Stewart, and William Stewart. Her twenty nine great grandchildren will miss her as well.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday December 23, at 10 am in St. Joseph Church, 854 Providence Street, West Warwick. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Kaye’s name to; the Mother Theresa Fund at St. Joseph Church, 854 Providence Street, West Warwick, RI 02893.