Catherine Tills

Her family said goodbye to Catherine “Kay” Jessie Tills (née Liberty) of Hamburg, N.Y., on September 19, 2021.


Kay was born on January 2, 1935, in Dunkirk, N.Y., to Russell and Jean Claringbold Liberty. She graduated from Hamburg High School in 1952 and, not long after, married classmate William “Bill” Hale, with whom she had four children. She spent most of their marriage in Puerto Rico due to Bill’s career. After the marriage ended, Kay lived in Houston and Atlanta, working in the travel planning industry during its pre-internet heyday.


Later in life, she became reacquainted with another Hamburg High classmate, Robert “Bob” Tills. They married in 2002, and Kay happily returned to her childhood town. She spent her remaining years traveling with Bob around the world (China, New Zealand, Peru, and many others), wintering on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia, and making a home together in the North Boston area outside Hamburg.


Her love for birds was known to all, and her collection of feeders in the backyard was a particular source of enjoyment. She knew just what jelly to feed the orioles, and one of her great pleasures was watching the pileated woodpeckers at the suet feeder. Many houseguests were asked to stand still at a moment’s notice lest we scare one away.


A private person, Kay valued her relationships with her family above all. Her children and their families gave her endless delight, and she appreciated the opportunity to watch them grow into adulthood. To them, she passed on her sense of humor, passion for reading, love of birds, and satisfaction in creating a comfortable home. Her green thumb, which raised orchids, African violets, and enormous Christmas cactuses, is something we still aspire to.


In recent years, she rededicated herself to the Catholic church and was a member of SS. Peter and Paul in Hamburg. She knitted colorful blankets for the Linus Project, which distributed them to children in need. Though the pandemic and declining health made her final years more isolated, she found comfort in her beliefs and her commitment to Bob, who was a steady and loving companion in her later decades.


Kay is survived by husband Bob; brother James Liberty; children Debra Hale (late Bob), Stephen Hale (Sandy), Catherine Stevens (Rick), and Jennifer Hale; grandchildren Christine Setty (Ryan), Matthew Stevens, Katie Midgley (Steve), Stuart Hale, Tyler Dimit (Lena) and Hayley Dimit, and Christine Krause; several great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.


Details of her memorial will be shared at a future date.




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