A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Kate was welcomed into the world by her parents John Miller and Veronica Roach in February of 1946. Her beloved brother John was born a few years later and they grew up together in the bucolic suburb of Rocky River, developing a close and unwavering relationship that would last their entire lives.
Kate attended Catholic Girl Schools, both for high school and then at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y. Several of her childhood friends followed her to Marymount and spent a year abroad together, studying at The London School of Economics. She always believed that the all-women’s school experience built her confidence and leadership skills. Her leadership was present throughout her career.
Kate moved to Washington D.C. after college. Upon leaving her first job after suspecting her employer might be part of a criminal front, she took a family planning job with the Department of Health and Human Services. She became committed to the field of Public Health and moved to Raleigh to earn a Master’s Degree at the University of North Carolina.
Kate met Joseph Hafey during a summer internship in San Francisco with the Comprehensive Health Planning Council in 1972. She returned to North Carolina to finish her degree and then accepted a position with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Kate spent six months in Geneva before love drew her back to San Francisco and Joe, where they began a 45-year partnership. They married in 1978.
After moving to California, Kate quickly began a career with a talented group of young women, and a few men, at Berkeley Planning Associates. They conducted the first national evaluation on strategies to prevent child abuse. Kate met many of her life-long best friends during this effort. This experience stoked her passion for improving the lives of vulnerable children where she focused the rest of her career.
She became the Executive Director of the Child Abuse Trauma Center at Oakland Children’s Hospital. While she had some successes, she was unable to change the behavior of Doctors who refused to report cases of patients subjected to child abuse. Kate’s strong convictions forced her to resign after severe injury and several deaths resulting from this abuse went undocumented.
After the glorious birth of their first child Erin Catherine Hafey in 1980, Kate committed to stay home with Erin and her fabulous brother Ryan Michael Hafey, born in 1982. However, with both kids in middle school, Kate went back to continue her fight for vulnerable children in 1994. She became the Director of the Family and Children’s Trust Committee in Contra Costa County. FACT made grants to nonprofits that addressed childhood problems. She, also, created the innovative Contra Costa Welcome Home Baby Program, which used community members to provide new born services to families in the County. Kate continued to share the field of Public Health with Joe, who presided over the Public Health Institute, until their retirement in 2007.
The Hafey’s lived in Lafayette which was a wonderful community to raise kids. Kate was actively involved in the community and the Parent Faculty Club, where she became President. Her role as Chair of the annual auction cost Joe a lot of money after he was directed to bid up the donated items. She volunteered with several nonprofit organizations, coached the kid’s teams, and built the rich friendships that were such an important part of their lives.
Kate created many traditions that will be passed on for generations. Christmases were always special with a beautifully decorated house, 10-foot tree, and the annual dessert party. The other holiday and birthday memories she created will make her passing a little easier.
Sports, travel, and camping were a major part of the Hafey family life until the kids went to college. Everyone skied in Tahoe, especially at Northstar. Kate and Joe also skied throughout the the West and Banff. Kate was active in supporting the kids’ swim team, and attended all soccer, volleyball, and softball games. The family traveled to Europe several times as well as Asia, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Canada. Joe and Kate traveled five continents together, with the Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania being her favorite. Kate passed down her passion of travel to Erin and Ryan which will forever be a major part of their lives. Carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks were also a highlight, especially when there was an opportunity to beat out other family members for stuffed animals. The competition was fierce but the family supported each other in individual games, most notably shooting baskets.
One of the great joys in her life was the birth of her two granddaughters, Lily and Abby, to Erin and Josh Zimmerman in 2011 and 2013. She cherished the girls and hoped that she would live long enough that they would be able to remember her. Now aged five and eight, she will get her wish. They will forever adore their grandmother.
Kate was diagnosed with her first of four life threatening cancers in 1992. She was determined to beat each of them and amazed her family and friends with her resolve and strength. After battling breast, lung, and colon cancer, Kate was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer in 2017. Her reputation as a fighter grew only stronger as she beat each cancer diagnosis. Kate Hafey died from complications of dementia on July 31st, 2019.
She will be remembered for being a wonderful wife, sister, mother, grandmother and friend. She lived a purposeful life that affected many people, was a loyal friend, and a fighter for the things that matter. Kate will be celebrated and remembered by everyone who knew and loved her.
A memorial service is scheduled for August 17 at the Lakeside Community Room at Heather Farms Park in Walnut Creek at 1:00 pm. Donations can be made to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord and Planned Parenthood.
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Monument Crisis Center
1990 Market St., Concord CA 94520