Manor Park Notables: Kathy Southee (1951-2023)

Lover of family and friends; humanity and nature – lover of life itself!

By Manor Park Chronicle

Kathy Southee (1951-2023)
Kathy Southee (1951-2023)

Kathy Southee (née Florence Kathleen Weekes) lived life to the fullest and with passion. Wife of Rick, mother to Reg, Hugh and Meg, and grandmother to Bishop and Inez, Kathy was a vibrant resident of Manor Park and her beloved Georgian Bay summer-cottage community and a spiritual member of the United Church of Canada. She was a life-long volunteer, generous charity worker, counsellor and financial supporter of many causes and organizations – both at home and abroad.

Inquistive intellect

Kathy Southee was born in Toronto, the youngest of three (two brothers, John and Bob) children of Jack (John) Weekes, a lawyer, and Florence Joyce Weekes. She grew up on Douglas Cres. before the family moved to Willowdale in North York. Kathy attended Toronto’s Havergal College (her grandmother’s desire) on scholarship as a day student from Grade 6 until Grade 13. Kathy’s only complaint was the commuting time from Willowdale, which curtailed her social and sporting interests.

Kathy studied English literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, graduating with a BA (Hons) in 1974. Years later (following studies at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa), she would return full-time to Queen’s to earn a Master of Divinity degree (2009), and a Master of Theological Studies (2011) with a specialization in restorative justice. A spiritual person, Kathy was alive at Queen’s questioning and deepening her faith, but because of her inevitable ‘aging brain’, she admitted to struggling with Hebrew.

Kathy was an athlete and a conversationalist, par excellence–possessed of a keen mind and an inquisitive intellect. No topic was taboo for Kathy. She was a whirlwind presence and a fireball personality. She was a passionate life-long downhill skier. It was at Queen’s in 1972 where she met her life partner, Rick (also a Queen’s student) on a ski trip to Mt. Tremblant. They married in 1974 and moved to Ottawa. They first lived on Boteler St., before purchasing a small Manor Park house (which saw many renovations) at 31 Farnham Cres.

‘Soul of Manor Park’

A garden, their three children (Reg, Hugh, and Meg) and many family dogs followed. Kathy came to be, as one neighbour commented, the ‘soul of Manor Park’. She was a stay-at-home mom–thoroughly engaged in the community. In the early 1980s , she became treasurer with the Manor Park Parent Preschool Resource Centre. She was also delivery coordinator for the Chronicle. Later, she joined the Manor Park Community School Council, serving as chair from 1986 to 1987. She also participated in Manor Park’s Save the Circle campaign to rescue the Mile Circle (on Sandridge Rd.) from becoming the site of the U.S. embassy.

A dedicated and energetic force, Kathy was as active in her church as she was in the community. She served on many committees at MacKay United in New Edinburgh, including Chair of Council in 2003. An excerpt from the church’s 2003 photo directory reads: “Kathy Southee … has a dream. … to see every child in our growing Sunday School be able to name every adult in the pews and vice versa.” Kathy had a gift for finding ways of getting people to know each other, leading to more understanding.

The house on Farnham became the family anchor. Many Sunday dinners took place there for her children and over the years their partners, grandchildren, and friends. Even for people the family didn’t know well. Rick did the cooking; Kathy did the talking. Love radiated from Kathy. It was an inclusive love that expanded to the marginalized and the oppressed. If someone was lonely or in need of friendship, they were invited to dinner.

Hospice volunteer

Returning from Queen’s with her graduate degrees, Kathy began working at First United in the west-end as the Congregational Devotional Minister from 2011 to 2013. In summer, she preached at the outdoor Cognashene Community Church in Georgian Bay.

Trained in palliative care, Kathy volunteered at the May Court Hospice and was an active supporter/donor of Help Lesotho (putting two girls through school), Christie Lake Kids (sponsoring children-in-need to attend summer camp) and other causes. Accepting of mystery and wonder of life and concrete in action and practice, Kathy supported the underprivileged and strongly opposed injustice.

Complimenting her deep spirituality, Kathy was embedded in nature. Even though she thrived on conversing with people, she was at peace rowing in quiet solitude early in the morning. Kathy savoured summers spent outdoors at the family-built compound of cabins (without electricity or running water in the beginning) on Ship Island in Georgian Bay. There were only two summers she wasn’t there: when she was born, and when she died.

Kathy Southee faced death and her cancer diagnosis with courage and with dignity. As her husband Rick poignantly said, “She lived and died with a smile on her face,” surrounded by family upstairs in their home on Farnham. Her favourite hymn, sung at her Mackay United Church funeral was, This Ancient Love.

With kind appreciation to Rick and Meg Southee, and Susan Pitt.

A Manor Park Notable is a snapshot of an individual (now deceased) who lived in the Manor Park area, and who made a difference either through career or community involvement. Please send your suggestions for candidates or submissions to