Catherine “Cathy” D. Ullrey, age 68 of Kalamazoo, died on Saturday February 25, 2023.
Cathy was born on June 16, 1954, in Kalamazoo, the daughter of J. Gordon Johnson and A. Edith (Gromek) Walter. Cathy graduated from Gobles High School in 1972 and married Jack Ullrey, on June 29, 1974. Their family then grew with the addition of three children: Jessica, Tim, and David. Cathy was a full-time mom to all three of her children for over 20 years. After the children had grown, she returned to school and received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University in 2001. She worked with several local agencies as a social worker over the next 15 years, most recently with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health before her retirement in 2016.
Cathy’s childhood was filled with fond memories playing with her sister, cousins, and neighbors at their family home east of Gobles. Her life-long love of blueberries started early when she would ride her bike to the nearby farm and go berry picking every summer. Her parents owned Gobles TV and her childhood included memories of working at the store with her family. Cathy was involved in many activities during her time at Gobles High School including the cheerleading squad, basketball team, and student council.
As a mother, Cathy was very active and involved in her kids’ lives. Supporting and loving, she encouraged them in everything they did. She loved having all the neighborhood kids into their family home in Kalamazoo. Cathy was always ready to provide snacks and supervision for the droves of kids playing at the house and pool. She and Jack loved being spectators to anything the kids were doing including Jess’ choirs and theater, Tim’s soccer and diving, David’s tennis and marching bands, and all their grandchildren’s activities.
Cathy made holidays extra special with her generosity and warmth. She would fill the house with her Santa collection and illuminate the yard with Christmas lights. Her laughter would echo through the Gromek and Ullrey family Christmas parties. Her hearty Christmas breakfasts, grandchildren’s giant advent stockings and matching family pajamas were all trademarks of Cathy’s perfect Christmas season.
Cathy loved to play the piano and took lessons all of her life including virtual lessons throughout the pandemic. She loved to sew and took delight in making clothes and quilts for her kids and grandkids. In the summers, she loved sitting by the pool, reading the newspaper or a book, and sifting through a large box of blueberries.
Cathy enjoyed several vacations with family and friends filled wonderful stories and memories. From the dude ranch in Colorado, the beach house on Emerald Island, trips to Disney World, and countless others, she was always up for an adventure. Cathy and Jack were lucky enough to visit Europe multiple times, including trips to Spain, Italy and including a Mediterranean cruise.
Cathy is survived by her husband, Jack A. Ullrey; her children: Jessica Ullrey, Tim (Erika) Ullrey, and David (Natalie) Ullrey; her grandchildren: Jackson Petersen, Molly Ullrey, Katelyn Ullrey, Patrick Ullrey, and Rielly Ullrey; her sister, Rhonda (David) Orchanian; and many cousins, nieces and nephews and extended family members.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
The family will greet friends on Friday, March 3, 2023, at Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Westside Chapel, 3926 S. 9th Street from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the family will greet friends at Westwood United Methodist Church, (538 Nichols Rd. Kalamazoo, MI 49006) at 10:00 a.m. with a memorial service celebrating Cathy’s life at 11:00 a.m. with Reverend Sean Kidd officiating. A luncheon will follow the memorial service in the church’s fellowship hall. Memorials may be directed to Centrica Care Navigators, Westwood United Methodist Church, or the United Way of South-Central Michigan.
Please share memories of Cathy with her family at www.langelands.com