Catherine Kate Philbin
January 23, 1944 – August 16, 2021
Born Mary Catherine FitzGerald, Kate Philbin, formerly of Geneva and Rochester, NY, unexpectedly left us on Monday, August 16, 2021, in Carlsbad, CA, at the age of 77. A beachside memorial gathering will take place in Carlsbad on Saturday, September 4th, at 10:00 am. Reception will follow. A second memorial gathering will take place in Atlanta, GA, on Saturday, September 11th. For additional information, please contact a family member. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org/ Kate was born in Tucson, AZ, on January 23, 1944, to the late Roberta Lucille (Dickerson) and John Francis FitzGerald. She was the eldest of four children, John, Leland, and Stephen FitzGerald. Her early years were very transient; the FitzGerald family moved often. Mary went to 11, mostly Catholic, schools in total from elementary through high school. She graduated from Our Lady of Peace Academy in San Diego in 1962. She went to the Class’s 50th reunion to catch up with friends and reminisce about good times, including their prom at the Del Coronado Hotel. Mary was a great and very versatile athlete, something that was fostered by the fun and intensely competitive relationship she shared with her three younger brothers. She played and started on the high school varsity basketball and volleyball teams and was a varsity basketball cheerleader for USD High School, all boys Catholic HS where her brothers Johnnie and Lee went. Following her high school graduation, the family moved to Geneva, NY, where Mary attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges, graduating in 1966. She then earned her teaching credential and taught high school English at Clifton Springs H.S. for one year. Mary and her (former) spouse Clifford E. Orr Jr. moved to the Rochester area following their marriage on March 18th, 1967. An avid golfer, she won the Women’s Golf Club Championship at Geneva Country Club and was also the women’s tennis champ in Rochester, NY (Irondequoit). A high point in her tennis career was playing doubles with tennis great Jimmy Connors. Mary gave birth to two children she led passionately through life, Elaine Renee Orr (Goldberg) and Kevin Thomas Orr. Kate’s love of travel was probably born from moving a lot with her family, even though that was often difficult. She, Cliff, and their children lived in several towns while in upstate New York and even lived in a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia for a year where the kids attended school, and they traveled the country. Kate also loved flowers, especially her rose bushes, which she tended with great care in her Carlsbad garden, as well as peonies and lilacs, which were abundant in the garden that she cared for at the family’s home in Morton, NY. When her children were small, she would often send them to school with a fist full of lilacs for their teachers. Kate married Jack Philbin on New Year’s Day in 1987 at their home on Lake Ontario near Charlotte Beach. They resided in the Rochester area until 1992, when they returned to Kate’s California roots. Kate and Jack lived in Danville, CA, until 1998, when they moved to Carlsbad. Kate and Jack traveled the world together with their friends and children and shared their amazing stories and photos with anyone who would listen. They traveled to more than 30 countries together and always came home with a little something special to share with their children and grandchildren. Kate’s love of International style was evident in her home and wardrobe. Her coffee table always featured a copy of Vogue and other fashion and travel magazines. She particularly loved Japanese style and art. Kate could really rock a kimono, whether over a dress or with her favorite leather pants. Kate was in HR for approximately 30 years, which speaks to her love of people. She was a Human Resource Manager at Eastman Kodak in Rochester for many years, worked in HR for Molecular Medicine and The Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, and taught English as a second language. Later in life, Kate worked part-time in spa/restaurant reservations at the La Costa Resort (Omni) for several years. She loved the property and people she worked with and made some very close friends there. The things Kate loved most in life were her family and friends, a good party, dancing, whether at a party or in the kitchen to any era of music (a few of her favorites: The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Rolling Stones), the ocean, travel, and people. She always wanted to help others, strangers and friends alike, whether by giving them a job around her home, sponsoring them in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, or just sharing a kind word. Her beauty and openness drew others in, along with her warm, green eyes; green happened to be her favorite color. Most of all, Kate truly loved life and those she shared it with. She lived each day caring and doing for those she loved with a great flair for fun, a bit of drama, plenty of stories to share, and a kind word or smile for anyone that needed it. Kate was always up for whatever those around her wanted to do, especially activities or events that her children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and close family friends were a part of. She loved spending time with her grandchildren and would visit Kevin, Sandy, Sienna, Sydnie, and Kenzie every Sunday. Kevin and Kate would frequently sit outside on the Orr’s patio and enjoy each other’s company while they shared an IPA (hers, of course, with ice cubes). All of the children loved when Gramma Kate read to them, and she, when they read to her. She gifted them many books and keepsakes that they will cherish for a lifetime; in fact, she spoiled them mercilessly. Whether traveling to see sports or a play Noah and Will were in, Legoland or Disneyland, where she always insisted on riding the craziest of rollercoasters, a graduation, wedding, bar mitzvah, or Star Wars movie, it was a must that she attend them all. And according to her grandchildren (but not just them), she had the best laugh ever. Kate was preceded in death by her parents Roberta Lucille (Dickerson) and John Francis FitzGerald, brother John P. FitzGerald and stepdaughter Kathleen Philbin. Kate is survived by her children Elaine Orr Goldberg (Bob Goldberg) and Kevin Orr (Sandy Neuhauser Orr), Jack Philbin and her stepchildren Jeanne Philbin (Ole Varmer), Owen Philbin (Joan Marsh), Michael Philbin (Angelina Philbin), her grandchildren Noah, Will, Sydnie, Sienna, Kenzie, Jackson, Maximilian, Samantha and Madeleine, her siblings Leland J. FitzGerald (Debbie FitzGerald), Sasha FitzGerald (John’s spouse), Stephen C. FitzGerald (Mary Pat FitzGerald), nieces and nephews Ted FitzGerald, Cruse FitzGerald, Shawn FitzGerald, Ryan FitzGerald, Michael FitzGerald (Larissa FitzGerald), Kelly FitzGerald Moore (Dan Moore), Allison FitzGerald Childs (Michael Childs). Kate will be missed dearly by all who knew her. Mom, Mary, Kate, on all the important days of our lives and on the regular ones, tooyou will be on our mind, always remembered, forever loved.
Published by San Diego Union-Tribune from Sep. 2 to Sep. 3, 2021.