Kathryn Beij

Kathryn S. Beij (Sommerkamp)

Monday, January 31st, 1927 - Monday, February 17th, 2020
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Kathryn “Kay” Beij died this morning before sunrise, of old age aggravated by winter. In the end she made her own decision to take to her bed, where she died peacefully, well cared-for and much loved by the wonderful folks at Forestview Manor (her home-away-from-home since June 2019) and Lakes Region VNA Hospice, as well as family and friends. She enjoyed the 2019 holiday season, greeted 2020 with amazement, voted early, celebrated her birthday, and last played her favorite board game, Qwirkle, less than two weeks before her passing. That’s our gal. We love her, will miss her dearly, but supported her decision to move on.

Kay was born in Washington, DC, to Frank and Loretta Sommerkamp and raised in DC within a tightly-knit family of five children and lots of relatives. She attended McKinley High in Washington, DC, followed by the University of Maryland where she graduated with a BS in Zoology, the only woman in a class of WWII veterans. During childhood summers her parents, who both worked for the United States Post Office, sent the children to stay with relatives. Kay ended up with the country folks in rural Pennsylvania, where she learned to carry spring water, pick peaches, fish, shoot (and likely more she didn’t fess up about). She became and remained a country girl who also appreciated cities, skillful at navigating everything from wilderness and farm life, to urban and cross-country transit, to alternative lifestyles and international places and cultures.

Kay emanated curiosity, intelligence, wit and playful mischief. Her indomitable work ethic was matched only by her unceasing sense of adventure. After a post-graduate internship in laboratory technology at Doctors Hospital in the DC area, she moved to rural Pennsylvania to work in a hospital lab. There she met her friend Carol, with whom she hatched a plan to hike the northern half of the Appalachian Trail. They set off on this adventure in 1953, and along the way, in Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington, Kay met Pierce Beij, who was taking the afternoon off from his hill farm in Holderness to do a quick hike up Lion’s Head. They hit it off, he drove the women up to Mount Katahdin, and three weeks later, after they had hiked back to New Hampshire, Kay and Pierce married. They were together for 61 years, until Pierce’s passing in 2015. Kay and Pierce had two daughters, Jennifer and Karin, and in 1959 started the family’s vegetable and plant stand on East Holderness Road, one of the few in the area for decades. That simple farm stand, with its greenhouses, fields of vegetables and flowers, Black Angus cattle and fabulous view, grew into a hub of summer social activity for locals and summer people alike. Kay presided with her magnetic personality, love of life, and corn-picking grit. Her brother, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles and their families, many of them passionate fishermen, visited Holderness every summer to fish, play cards, and enjoy the countryside. Those were the days!

Kay and Pierce retired from the farming business in 1985, after which Kay freely travelled the US (by train) and the world (international adventure!) from her home base on the farm. For many years she spent the deepest part of winter with Kathy and Ella, her nieces in Texas, helping Kathy, a florist, navigate the Valentine’s Day rush.

Kay was talented with arts and crafts, good at puzzles, an inveterate reader, and dangerously savvy at cards and other games. She had many friends, some she referred to as her “adopted” children, dearly loved.

Kay was predeceased by her husband, her parents, her brother, Frank Sommerkamp III, and her sister Doris Sears. She is survived by two beloved sisters, both in the DC area, Mary Nencioni and Patricia Fitzpatrick, as well as by her daughter, Jennifer Yashiro, grandchildren Takashi Yashiro and Abigail Yashiro, of New Jersey, by her daughter Karin Beij and partner Brice Bennett, keeping up the family farm in Holderness, and many dear friends and relatives near and far. Her daughters send out love and deep gratitude to all in her community. Thank you! She certainly had a good, long, rich life.

In a few days we’ll have a page on the Mayhew Funeral Homes website dedicated the Kay Beij. Join us there if you wish! Otherwise we’ll keep feeding the woodstoves and get through winter, saving Kay’s services for when it’s easier to get around outside and more friends are in the area:
There will be a community memorial celebration of Kay Beij at the family farm in East Holderness on Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 10 am, followed by a garden party. All are welcome!
Carry on! With love, Karin
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Private Condolence

Love you- Nanette

Posted at 11:18am
In memory of my dear Aunt Kathryn, fondly known as Aunt Doodles, I am planting a tree for each of my grandchildren, Caleb, Emily, August and Althea.
Tree Image
4 trees were planted in the memory of Kathryn Beij — Plant a Tree Now

Ann Sprague

Posted at 02:07pm
To Jennifer and ll the family, I'm sorry to hear of your mom's passing, but what a nice tribute to her life in this obituary. Sincerely from your old classmate, Ann Sprague

Ms. Annie

Posted at 02:37am
Kay was such a joy and a blessing to all who were privileged to meet her. So my mere words cannot take away the sadness that all are feeling. I hope a measure of comfort can be found in the memories of Kay's life as well as in God's promises. If not one sparrow falls to the ground without God's notice, certainly he will not forget his beloved Kathryn.—Matthew 10:29,31; Acts 24:15, Psalm 37:11, 29

Steffan O'Sullivan

Posted at 07:21pm
She would be friends with anyone who smiled back at her. And she smiled at everyone. Biggest heart of anyone I ever knew.

Greg Sears

Posted at 02:44pm
Aunt Doodles was one of the most loving, caring, open-minded, and fun persons that I have ever met. I admired her for her love of people, nature, travel and willingness to help others. She traveled with and assited my handicapped Mother (who was Katherine's younger sister) on trips to both Guatemala and Swizerland to vist my family and I when were living overseas. We had a wonderful times touring the countryside, seeing the sites, sharing laughs, and of course....playing cards or board games. As hard as I tried, don't think I ever did beat Aunt Doodles in cards, ha! Aunt Doodles was truley a special person who touched those who had the pleasure of meeting her. I like to think that she is reunited with Pop Pop, Nana, Buster and Doris and that there is a helluva card game going on or they are enjoying an "ole fashioned cook-out".
Couisins Jennifer and Karin - My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Cousin Greg

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