October 27, 1976 – June 23, 2007
(Katie (second from right) with her mom, Judy, and her nieces (Kayla, Emma, and Chloe) and nephew (Chase) in Lake Villa, IL in December 2006)
If you asked Katie if she liked to shop, she quite likely would say, “Not so much.” If you asked her if she liked syrup on her pancakes, she’d come back with, “Not so much.” It was a kinder, Katie way to say, “no” and she used it freely, along with her ready laugh and gentle teasing.
Katie shared that laugh and no-nonsense approach with many, first in high school, as a YMCA lifeguard, and in college, as a resident assistant at St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Shortly after college, Katie took her charms and talents international, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bangladesh. While roughing it in “The Desh” with the Peace Corps from 2000 to 2001, Katie met John Evans.
They married their minds and missions in a ceremony as unique as the two of them: in a barn on an apple orchard in northern Indiana on May 8, 2004. Katie was working at that time as the coordinator for volunteer services for the Chicago Food Depository. Organizing and motivating people came easily to Katie — and those who knew her personally often were on the receiving end.
Not content to stay in one place, Katie and John went to graduate school in Miami, where she earned her masters degree in public health from Florida International University in May 2006. Katie received a Coca-Cola Foundation fellowship to work as an intern with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in Bucharest, Romania, for the summer of 2006. That internship turned into a full-time job as project manager of an HIV / AIDS and Family violence outreach program, a position which utilized Katie’s talents for organizing and motivating individuals from all walks of life: priests, bureaucrats, teachers, community organizers, and volunteers.
(John and Katie in Bucharest, Romania in 2006)
Katie and John traveled throughout Europe and Romania. While hiking in the Buscegi Mountains on June 23, 2007, the winds were too strong for a cable car to run up the mountain, so they rallied a group of old and new-that-day friends to hike to the top. Katie spent much of the day helping another hiker who was struggling with a pulled muscle. After dinner and on the return to their lodgings, Katie and two others were attacked by a bear and Katie was killed.
Of Katie’s work with IOCC, Executive Director & CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou said, “Katie was committed to serving the most vulnerable in her work with the HIV / AIDS program. We are confident that her selfless outreach for the betterment of others will continue for decades to come.”
Katie actually did the things most people only think about doing. Her warm and vibrant approach to life inspired those around her to reach higher, push harder, and go beyond the ordinary.
In the spirit of Katie, we hope The Katie Memorial Foundation will provide opportunities to make some small changes to do good work on a regular basis. Like Katie did. Will it always work? It’s hard to say — we certainly hope so. Will we stop trying? Not so much.
— Beth LaPlante (Katie’s sister-in-law)/March 2008