Kathryn Swain

Dec. 1932~ April 2017

Kathryn Swain

1932 ~ 2017
Kathryn Watkins Swain, 84, of Manteca, CA, died a courageous death in Modesto, CA on April 9, 2017. A service in celebration of her life and irrepressible spirit will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County in Modesto at 3pm on Sunday, May 7th.

Kathryn was born on the dusty plains of northwestern Oklahoma in December 1932 to Rev. J. Ralph and Pearl Watkins. She grew up in Courtland, Kansas and moved to Clyde, Kansas in her senior year, graduating from there in 1950 – but she always said her heart remained in Courtland. She then attended the University of Kansas where she met her first husband, Marshall Moeller Swain. It wasn’t until 1976 that she earned a BA from the University of Hawaii where she majored in Women’s Studies.

Kathryn was a staunch feminist and active champion of women’s rights. She was also a world traveler, business owner, social worker, newspaper columnist, talented pianist, avid reader and a great lover of good food, good company, conversation and dirty jokes.

Kathryn is preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Pearl, her older brother Roy, and by her life partner of 38 years, Bob St. John. She is survived by her brother Ralph Harlan, her five children Bruce, Paul, Victoria, Curtis and Nancy, Bob’s daughter Pam, numerous grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, and various and sundry nieces, nephews, in-laws, outlaws, friends, acquaintances and sisters of the heart.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County
P.O. Box 1000
Salida, CA 95368


  1. I was always so pleased that Kathryn loved my voice, and, was willing to play for me to sing. She was a stickler for rhythm, and tried to help me be better at it. We enjoyed the choir at UUFSC, and she was so supportive, even when it was down to only three or four members. I will miss the days when she dressed up as some important women in history, and gave such inspiring talks with humor. Go, lifted up, Kathryn!

  2. Kathryn did not shy away from reality. She worked to right wrongs, gave her all to any project she chose to pursue, and loved to insert unexpected witty comments into her conversations. She was a delight to know, I shall miss her a lot.

  3. Kathryn was very honest about what she believed in. She had a great sense of humor. She was our church volunteer pianist for many years on cold mornings before the heat kicked in and warm late mornings before we had air conditioning. She and Bob were riding their bikes from Manteca to the church in Modesto until just a few years ago. What a zest for adventure she had!

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