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Katharine J. Bland

August 21, 1931 - September 29, 2021


Katharine Jannette (Karr) Bland

August 21, 1931 – September 29, 2021


Katharine Jannette Bland passed away on Wednesday, September 29, in her home as a result of renal (kidney) failure. She was surrounded by her family and passed peacefully.

Katharine has been in declining health since the first of the year and her family provided care for her so that she could remain in her own home. She has been engaged in her care and followed her regular routine throughout most of this time. Reading the paper, visiting with family, waiting for the mail, and kicking butt on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune each night. She recently celebrated her 90th Birthday and was well enough to interact with almost 100 people gathered from different facets of her life to celebrate her. Her wit and sense of humor were intact throughout so we were able to share as many laughs as we did tears during our time with her. She was a strong and stubborn woman, and she left on her own terms.

About Katharine

Katharine was born in Portland, Oregon on August 21, 1931 to Lee W. Karr, Sr and Nija Katharine (Merrick) Karr . She was the third of four children and the only girl. She attended Arleta Grade School from 1936 – 1945, entering as a member of the first Kindergarten class in Portland Public Schools. She worked as a paper carrier for The Oregon Journal until she entered high school. She graduated from Franklin High School in 1949.

Katharine was a Camp Fire Girl and Namanu camper. She became a member of Bethel #2 of the International Order of Job’s Daughter, a Masonic youth organization, in 1947 and remained active until she received her Majority Degree at age 21 in 1952.

The Karr Family lived close to Mt Scott Park and spent their summers in the pool (her parents met as lifeguards at Lake Oswego). Katharine was a member of the Franklin High School Swim Team, serving as the Captain during her senior year. She competed with the Portland Park Bureau Swim Team, earned her life saving credentials, and taught swimming lessons at Mt Scott Pool. She joined the Portland Aquatic Club swimming with the Water Ballet Team, performing at the 1950 Rose Festival in pools at Multnomah Stadium (now Providence Park) and in the Deschutes River during the Bend Water Festival.

Katharine earned a scholarship from the Portland Museum Art School while in grade school which started her art program that she continued into high school. As an art student, Katharine was asked to design backdrop sets and costumes for the annual “Quatasia” (Quaker Fantasia) productions at Franklin. Production themes included Snow White, Robin Hood, Pinocchio, and Cinderella. Her work was admired by the management of the Imperial Skating Rink, resulting in her creation of backdrops and costumes for local skating shows and performers.

Since she was at the rink, she took up skating and ended up being a competitive skater in both dance and freestyle. In 1955, she was the Oregon State Novice Women’s silver medalist. Ten days before skating at the regional competition, she broke her ankle and was unable to compete. She met Norman Gene Bland at the rink and they were married on January 24, 1953. Norman and Katharine were active in the skating community until they became parents in 1956.

Katharine and Norman bought their home on SE 68th in 1955 where they raised their three children: Norma Jean (Jeanie), Cheryl Ann, and Michael John. Norm and Kathy enjoyed ski trips, beach trips, hunting, gardening, and being involved with their families and circle of friends. They would host and attend events requiring them to wear costumes. Each time Katharine would sew matching outfits for the two of them.

She worked full days and found time after work to give more to those around her. She welcomed everyone into her home and to her table. Her life was full of service to others through her church, through her organizations connected to the American Legion and Masonic orders, through her blood donations, and through the hours that she donated to the activities that her children (and her grandkids) were involved in.

Katharine worked as an Administrative Assistant and Office Manager for Portland Public Schools District Office (1953 – 1956), Blue Bell Potato Chips (1958 – 1960), BF Goodrich Tire Company (1965-1985), American Legion Auxiliary Department Office (1985 -1986), American Legion Department of Oregon (1986 – 2005). She worked the switch board for the David Douglas School district on an “On Call” basis after retirement.

Giving Service

She volunteered for youth groups and activities of her children. Katharine was a volunteer for Camp Fire as a Blue Bird, Camp Fire, and Horizon Club leader. She was a Camp Director at Camp Wekio Day Camp, she served in leadership roles for the council, and was the candy sale chair for many years. She supported Norman and her kids who were involved with Drum and Bugle Corps. She designed and sewed uniforms and flags, tabulated scores at competitions, and traveled to attend contests. Katharine served as Guardian for Bethel #2 and was a member of the Grand Guardian Council of Oregon for the International Order of Job’s Daughters.

Katharine was a member of Sts Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland. She served as an acolyte, a sub-deacon, and as a member of the Altar Guild.

Katharine was a member of many organizations where she found opportunities to be a leader and to give service as a volunteer at the local, regional, state, and National levels. She loved organizing large events and counting the cash after a successful fundraiser. She was recognized for her work at all levels around giving service and documenting organizational history.

**American Legion Auxiliary: She volunteered for Oregon Girls State, she served for 819 hours at the Portland VA Medical Center, and donated 28 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross. She sang with the “ALA Modes barbershop quartet, performing at several Veteran’s and Legion events. She worked at Department Headquarters for 20 years – serving the American Legion and Auxiliary, and American Legion Baseball.

**Eight & Forty (61 years): Eight and Forty is the “fun” organization and philanthropic society of the American Legion Auxiliary. She organized and volunteered for fundraisers benefiting youth with lung disease and disorders, and the National Nurses Scholarship programs.

**Order of the Amaranth (44 years), Order of Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile (20 years), and Ladies of the Oriental Shrine (20 years): All organizations in the Masonic Family. She volunteered at the Portland Shrine Hospital, sold Fireworks, organized dinners, and wrapped Christmas presents to raise funds.

Katharine was preceded in death by her parents Lee and Nija, her brothers Robert, Roy, and Lee, and her husband Norman.

She is survived by her children Norma Jean and Jim Siverson, Cheryl Bland and Keith Parkhurst, Michael Bland and Trish VanBuskirk. She has six grandchildren: Terrence Bland, Antonia Bland, Cassandra Baker, Burt Turner, Zac Parkhurst, and Stephanie Gwyn. She has two great granddaughters and another great grandchild is due in January.

She received care from the Providence Hospice Team and we could not have asked for better support. Her Rector, Mother Sara visited with her regularly and we are quite certain her place was secured when she joined her ancestors in heaven.

Katharine will be interned at Willamette National Cemetery on the morning of Monday, January 24, 2022 joining Norman on what would have been their 69th wedding anniversary. A Celebration of Life will be held at 1:00pm at Sts Peter and Paul Episcopal Church, located at 247 SE 82nd Avenue, on January 24th.

Remembrances as requested by Katharine

Sts Peter and Paul Episcopal Church – Rectors Fund

PO Box 16127, Portland, Oregon 97292-0127


American Legion Auxiliary – Oregon Girls State

PO Box 1730, Wilsonvile, Oregon 97070-1730


Order of the Amaranth – Diabetes Foundation

Inked checks may be made out to: ADF

c/o Cathy Edson 3105 Lakestone Drive, Tampa, Florida  33618-1120

Marked in memory of Katharine Bland, Grand Court of Oregon


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