Tag Archives: Katie Chase

Historical Society Lauds Katie Chase

Last week — just 4 days before her death — the Westport Historical Society honored longtime and tireless volunteer Katie Chase. Jeff Craig wrote this tribute for the organization’s newsletter:

As she looks back on her many years of service to the Westport Historical Society, Katie Chase is grateful to have had the opportunity to help further an understanding and appreciation of the town’s past.

“It’s been a real privilege,” Katie says. “I find that everyone is helpful and interested in what we’re doing. We wouldn’t get the beautiful exhibits we’ve had if we didn’t have people working diligently for them. We have a great team.”

Katie has been an important member of that team. WHS president Ed Gerber recalls that his first introduction to the Society was trying to convince then-president Chase to sell his book about Westport artist George Wright in the gift shop. “She examined the copies I showed her with such thoroughness,” he remembers. “She said, ‘This one has a crease – we wouldn’t sell it if it wasn’t perfect.”

Gerber says this “dedication and thoroughness” carried over into everything she did for the Society. She knows how everything was done in the past, Ed says, and has done the things other people have not wanted to do, like preserving and explaining the bylaws.  She’s been at every event, making sure people sign the guest register. “Her volunteer scope has been so great,” he says.

Katie Chase (Photo/Laurence S. Untermeyer)

Katie Chase (Photo/Laurence S. Untermeyer)

Katie has given her time to the Society since 2000, when she started working in the archives department with the late Barbara Raymond, whom she described as “a wonderful guide.” In the years since, Katie has edited all of the brochures for the Society’s exhibits. From 2007 to 2010 she headed up the Society as president, and only recently stepped down as vice president archives.

Behind the scenes Katie has been “a wonderful guide” herself, a kind and intelligent voice in the many deliberations that are part of our work. If the players on the “great team” of which she speaks wore uniforms, we retire her number and hang it on the wall of the Sheffer Gallery.

Katie came to Westport by way of Terre Haute, Indiana, where she grew up; Mills College in California where she received a degree in American studies, and Stamford. She and husband Bill moved here in 1974 because they “liked the look and the flavor of the town, the beach and the fact that it was still somewhat an artists community.” The couple has a son, who grew up here and attended Westport schools, and 2 grandchildren.

In her professional life, Katie worked for Greenwood Publishing in Westport, editing books on history and social studies. She later had her own business, Katie Chase Editorial Services, which she operated out of her home on Sue Terrace.

If you were to Google Katie’s name you would find that she has also been very active in the community, having served as president of the Y’s Women and  the Westport Young Woman’s League.

Some of Katie’s most enjoyable and interesting moments at the Society have been in the archives, fielding requests from the public for information about the town’s history. “When we could find what they wanted, it was always gratifying,” she says.

Remembering Katie Chase

Katie Chase — former Westport Historical Society president, secretary, director of archives, oral history project interviewer and board of directors member — died last night at home. She was 76.

Five days ago — shortly after stepping down from the WHS for health reasons — Katie was honored by that organization. Advisory council member Dorothy Curran says:

The close timing between Katie Chase’s resignation from the WHS board for health reasons, her lively comments at Wednesday’s reception and her passing just 4 days later, speaks volumes.

She so loved the Westport Historical Society: the purpose, the place, the people, and her role as a vigilant guardian of the collections and standards she helped establish.

All of us who were there Wednesday know how much physical effort and stamina were required for her to come and remain, patiently listening to each and every one of us and responding.

All who came also can attest to the shared love that filled the Sheffer Gallery, and the sense of peace that lingered as she left.

If “friends are the family you choose,” we, as a family, are fortunate to have had an opportunity to thank Katie, give her a group hug and let her go in the light of that lovely peace.

In 2012, Katie Chase interviewed Elwood Betts for the Westport Historical Society’s oral history project. Click below to hear her work: