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Katherine Flowers Gerke

Thetford Center, Vt — Katherine Flowers Gerke of Thetford Center, Vt, died on July 2, 2013, at home and surrounded by her family, after a courageous and uncomplaining battle with lymphoma.

Katy was born on August 25, 1950, in Bethesda, Md., to Ann and Woody Flowers.  Because her father was a naval officer, the family moved often, living in Maryland, England, California, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, before settling in Wayland, Mass. Her senior year of high school, she lived in Marseilles, France as an exchange student. While there, she lived with the Alloing family, whom she came to love.  The two families remained close and visited each other dozens of times over the next 45 years.

Katy studied English literature at Smith College, graduating in 1972.  She spent her junior year abroad in Scotland at the University of Saint Andrews, where she met her best friend and future husband, Paul Gerke.  Engaged before they came back to the United States, they married a year later on August 5, 1972.

Katy was a woman of remarkable energy.  She was easily identified in a crowd by her wild, curly, red hair, often telling a story and surrounded by smiles. Already married with two children when she started at the Medical College of Ohio, she returned to medical school only a week after delivering her third son. She completed her radiology residency and neuroradiology fellowship at University of Michigan, never letting long hours at the hospital keep her from dinner with her family or reading to her children before bed.  Among other books, she managed to read her three young sons all 1200 pages of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  They loved it so much that she then read it to them again.

Katy loved radiology.  She practiced radiology during the 25 wonderful years she lived in Toledo, Ohio, and her colleagues remained lifelong friends.  When called to the hospital at night to read emergency studies, she would often bring her children and share the findings with them.  She and Paul moved to Vermont in 2001, where she practiced at Alice Peck Day, Valley Regional, Mount Ascutney, and New London hospitals for 11 happy years, until illness forced her to retire.   Her enthusiasm inspired one of her sons, and several of her sons’ friends, to become radiologists.

A lifelong traveler, she took her family as far afield as Peru, China, and Egypt, miraculously picking up enough of the local language to get by wherever she went.  After becoming interested in French cuisine as an exchange student, Katy cooked Julia Child recipes relentlessly until Paul pleaded for plain hamburger. In fiction and film, Katy’s tastes ranged from Anna Karenina to Indiana Jones.  She also loved opera.  As a board member of Opera North, she particularly enjoyed hosting young singers at her home during the summers; many became close friends.  At family gatherings, singers gathered around the piano, as Katy played from the hymnal or The Fireside Book of Folksongs, a favorite from her youth.  Good pitch was optional, but participation was not.

Katy was generous with her time and energy.  She felt great compassion for lonely people, devoting herself to visiting elderly members of the community. She was an active member of the Norwich Congregational Church.

A fiercely devoted and loving wife, mother, and grandmother, Katy made it clear by action and word that her family was the most important thing in her life. She is survived by Paul, husband of 40 years; mother Ann Flowers of Hanover; sons Matthew of Washington, D.C. (wife Anya, daughter Lucia), Luke of New York City (partner Claire), and Benjamin of Santa Fe (wife Hillary, daughter Sophia, son Burley); brothers Peter Flowers of Norwich (wife Joy) and Chris Flowers of New York City (wife Anne); sisters-in-law Jane Park (husband Dong), Elaine Gerke (husband Cliff Jolliff), and Teresa Chappell (husband Charlie); and eight nieces and nephews.  She will be dearly missed by all.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to any of the following:

Norwich Congregational Church (http://www.norwichcongregational.org)

Norris Cotton Cancer Center (http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/)

The Carter Center (http://www.cartercenter.org)

A memorial service will take place on Saturday, July 13, 2013, at 9am at the Norwich Congregational Church.  All are welcome.