CATHERINE VIRGINIA TOOLEY SHEPARD
June 22, 1991 - August 16, 2019
"As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly. You leave marks behind, however small, and in return, life -- and travel -- leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks on your body, or on your heart, are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt."
~ Anthony Bourdain
The spirit of Catherine has left the physical temple it lived in here on Earth. All of the many people who were close to her are blessed that her spirit chose us to be with for this short time and in such a beautiful persona. Regretfully, she had to leave to find peace elsewhere. 28 years was not enough time to truly understand and realize the depth of her soul. The ones she left behind know that she cared deeply for us, but wonder if she realized the depth of our love for her.
Catherine had an eclectic group of friends and could connect with anyone she chose to, especially children and the elderly, whom she cared for while employed part-time by Home Instead Senior Care in Missoula, Montana.
From an early age, Catherine set the tone of her life of intelligence, inquisitiveness, strong will, reserve and person-hood. She had fun debating any topic of interest. She was a good and respectful listener, but held strong to her opinions, as they reflected her values (and she had probably taken several hours to research each topic before feeling qualified to discuss it).
Catherine was brilliantly sarcastic, using an intelligence and a quick, dry wit to either entertain or confound the recipients of her humor. We sense that she never knew how lovable or funny she was.
Catherine's ideas were out of the ordinary, and she viewed the world in large, global and universal ways. She was an avid advocate of justice, human rights, and the democratic principles of our nation. Her numerous best friends (the "Sisterhood of the Mother of Finn") are passionate, beautiful, fierce, protective, devoted, adoring, loving, and beloved by Catherine. They cradled her in turbulent times and celebrated with her in happy times, loving her no matter what.
Catherine was the daughter of Oda Sue Tooley and Herbert Warren Shepard. She was born and started school in Billings, Montana. When she was 7, her family moved to Big Timber, Montana where she graduated from Sweet Grass County High School in 2009. Catherine was an exchange student in Bewdley, England, for the first semester of 11th grade. She persevered through many trials, including the death of her father, in order to complete her Bachelor of Science, with honors, in Economics and a minor in Art History from the University of Montana in May 2019. She was immediately granted a fellowship to pursue a Master's degree in economics, also at UM. She died shortly before beginning those studies in August.
Catherine loved Montana, especially the Missoula area, and eventually wanted a global career so she could see the world. She enjoyed the outdoors, studied and created art, played musical instruments, listened to thousands of songs on Spotify and mothered the world's luckiest dog, her beloved Labradoodle, Finn.
Forward Montana, an organization devoted to getting young people involved in politics, provided a perfect work home for Catherine's talents and passion. Starting with supervising door-to-door pollsters, she progressed to become Operations Coordinator. She kept finances in order, did the political filing and was a valuable member of the leadership team.
Catherine is survived by her mother, Sue Tooley, her brother Creath Shepard, her uncle and aunt, Chuck and Joanie Tooley, cousins Marni and Jim Edmiston, Deby and Dave Daniels, Larry and Marian Tooley, half-siblings Susan Starcevich, Jim Shepard, Bob Shepard and their children, many other well-loved relations from the Tooley, Wainman, and Shepard families in various parts of the country, the Sisterhood of the Mother of Finn, numerous friends, and her fur-love Finn.
She was predeceased by her father Warren Shepard and grandparents Creath and Cathy Tooley, Mildred Tooley, Virginia Wood, and Herbert Shepard.
UPDATE: Catherine's service will now be held on October 12, 2019 in Missoula, MT at the UCC, 405 University Ave, at 3:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Forward Montana, PO Box 2817, Missoula MT 59806, or at forwardmontana.org