Catherine Yvonne Brockman passed away on October 27th, 2023, at 12:01 am, two days after her 84th birthday at Madonna Towers in Rochester, Minnesota.
Catherine was born on October 25th, 1939, in St. Paul, Minnesota. After attending Stillwater High School, she undertook a career journey of diverse occupations, working for the St. Paul Hotel, McGill, and the State of Minnesota.
She then embarked on a profoundly rewarding path, building the foundation of a loving family. On October 7, 1961, Catherine married Robert Brockman, her high school prom date. Their story, like her life, was a tapestry of love and commitment. They welcomed three children into their lives - Anne, Jane, and Michael.
After raising three children, Catherine rekindled her own dreams and returned to school at St. Catherine College to pursue a bachelor's degree in English, then further fueled her intellect by pursuing a master's degree in counseling at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Following her academic pursuits, Catherine opened Bookmania, a used bookstore in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where she sold rare and used books. This venture was a testament to her enduring passion for literature and knowledge. With time, Catherine turned to painting, which became a life-long passion. She painted her vision of the world with vivid colors, infusing her work with her own unique style. An accomplished abstract artist, Catherine's creations spoke volumes about her inner world. She rarely sold her paintings, choosing instead to pass them along to loved ones. Her art graces the walls of many family members to this day.
Having spent their honeymoon in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Catherine and Robert fell in love with Mackinac Island, a remote island in the UP where only horses and bikes are permitted and no cars are allowed. In 1982, they built their own home nestled in the island's serene forests. For over forty years, the island cottage became the favored summer destination for many of Robert and Catherine's children and grandchildren. Catherine spent many summers on the island painting and reading. For over thirty years, she was involved in the Mackinac 7 Art group, exhibiting her works of art locally with the group and hosting drawing workshops in her home. Catherine was also an avid knitter, often hosting knitting groups at her home on the island.
In addition to her artistry, Catherine found solace in the world of literature. Catherine was an avid reader and could be found reading books on a daily basis. Book collecting was one of her passions. She collected Russian history books, crime fiction, poetry, fiction, and philosophical works. Catherine loved being surrounded by her books and often remarked that books were like "close friends".
Robert and Catherine's journeys took them to various corners of the United States, including Missouri, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Catherine embraced a life of adventure and exploration when her husband took an international role with 3M. She ventured to far-flung lands, cherishing the cultures and sights of China and Spain, with a special fondness for the wild beauty of the Costa Brava.
In later years, Catherine and Robert enjoyed over 20 years of retirement in Green Valley, Arizona, returning recently to Minnesota to be closer to family.
Catherine was a fiercely independent woman who was not afraid to try new things and forge her own way in life. She didn't let societal norms dictate what she did or who she was. She always followed her inner wisdom and guidance. Catherine was not afraid to express her views on most any topic, and she enjoyed debating with family members. In addition to her strong will and personality, she had an enduring empathy for those less fortunate. She avoided judging others, preferring instead to live by the Golden Rule of treating others as she wished to be treated. She was a strong advocate for social causes, an unwavering voice for justice.
Catherine is survived by her husband of 62 years, Robert; her children Anne (Mark) Schwartz; Jane Brockman and Michael Brockman (Maryam Afshar); her grandchildren Sam (Eliese) Schwartz, Luke Schwartz, Peter (Sydney) Schwartz, and Kiana Brockman; as well as her great-grandchildren John, Anika, and Sully. She was preceded in death by her parents, Emil and Ingeborg Olson, and her brother and sister-in-law, Henry and (Mary) Olson.
A celebration of life service will be held at 12:30 pm on Sunday, December 17, 2023, at the Lake Elmo Event Center, 3712 Layton Ave N, Lake Elmo, MN 55042. A luncheon will be served at 1:00 pm, followed by a short service to cherish and honor the life of this extraordinary woman.
The family extends their heartfelt gratitude to the compassionate teams at Madonna Towers and Mayo Clinic Hospice for their unwavering care and love.