Obituary: Catherine Woodworth Keniston, 89, of Fairview, formerly of Walkerville

May 19, 2022

Catherine Kenistonormer

Obituary: Catherine Woodworth Keniston, 89, of Fairview.

Catherine Joyce Woodworth Keniston passed away May 6, 2022 in Fairview.  She was born in Grand Rapids on October 24, 1932 to Lawrence Guy and Elizabeth Beatrice Johnson Woodworth. She grew up in Walkerville on the family farm, milking cows, caring for the horses, pigs and chickens, collecting eggs, picking potatoes and gathering sap for the annual maple syrup production.  Catherine worked hard on the farm doing chores from gardening, marking fields for planting, making hay and walking to school two miles away.  She and her friend Jean had a two-acre pickle patch, selling cucumbers to earn money for college.

In high school she was an eager student taking part in many extra-curricular activities including softball, basketball, class officer and yearbook staff.  She graduated in 1950 as class valedictorian.  Catherine continued her education at Western Michigan College earning a bachelor of science degree in home economics and attained a secondary teaching certificate in 1954.  She found a teaching position in Grant where she met and married John Paul Keniston, also a teacher at Grant High School.  There they raised two sons, John Paul, Jr. and Matthew Eric.

During her life, Catherine enjoyed a wide variety of activities; berry picking, making jams and jellies of all sorts, bird watching and cataloguing all she saw, gardening, bow hunting, deer hunting with her son, sewing, knitting, quilting, baking and playing cards.  She was never idle and kept those around her filled with stories of her childhood, her family, her adventures and daily reports of the birds at her feeders and the new flowers that bloomed or the amount of snow that fell.  Everyone was welcome in her home and usually given a jar or two or three of preserved goodies like her Thimbleberry Jam and Dilly Beans or maybe her famous brownies, rolls or cookies on a plate.

In 1990 John and Catherine bought “The Place”, her second home in Grand Marais.  Here they spent the months of May through October enjoying Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula.  Catherine or “Katie” as most everyone called her, thrived in the small community of the north, joining the Women’s Club which planted all the planters in town, meeting with the Red Hatters for lunches and attending the Grand Marais United Methodist Church where she baked over 20 pies each Fourth of July for the annual pie sale.  She made friends wherever she roamed and was ready with her smile and a hug.  Each summer all were invited to her Christmas in July gathering at “The Place”, spending hours at the beach, playing yard games and eating all of her wonderful treats, especially her homemade buckeyes.

She especially enjoyed seeing her family and friends, making sure everyone had a great time and being thrilled at each gathering. Her dedication to the community of Grand Marais was seen in the beautiful flower barrels in town and the flowers she planted each year at the church.  She would travel several times in early summer to L’Anse to help in her son’s greenhouse, taking flats of flowers back to Grand Marais for planting.  Katie worked from dawn to dusk in the greenhouse tending to the plants and hanging baskets, greeting customers with a smile and a story about her gardens at home and ended each encounter with a hug or two.

Catherine was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend to everyone she met.  She lived life to the fullest, charging full steam ahead with whatever she endeavored to do.  She spent many hours for many years collecting the genealogy for both her and her husband’s families, uncovering amazing ancestors and unique facts about her own history.  For those of us who have been blessed by her presence we can fold ourselves in the quilts she has given, the clothes she sewed or mended, the sweaters lovingly knitted even with arthritic fingers, or we can gaze at the wall hangings she cross-stitched throughout the years.  Generous without question, loving everyone in her life’s path, raising her sons to become men, being Big Sister to her three siblings and always finding the four leaf clovers with uncanny luck.

Catherine is survived by her sons John Paul Jr. “Jay” and Matthew Eric (Barbara); three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; her loving sister Elnora Jacobs and numerous nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were her mother Elizabeth; father Guy, husband John; brothers Lawrence and Everett.

A Celebration of Life will take place at “Her Place” in Grand Marais, MI later this summer.  Catherine’s obituary may also be viewed and condolences sent to the family at

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