Kathleen “Kathy” Shea Swendiman, age 70, passed away on Friday, December 6, 2019 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She had recently been diagnosed with cancer, though had not known how aggressive it was, and then suffered a stroke from which she could not recover. She died peacefully, surrounded by her husband and two children. In the preceding days, Kathleen shared with her family and church that she was full of gratitude and had no regrets.
Kathleen was born to John T. Shea and Rachelle V. Shea on February 26, 1949 in Washington, D.C. She was raised in Cheverly, Maryland and attended Elizabeth Seton High School, to which she credited her love for math and science. She graduated from Trinity Washington University in 1971 with a degree in Physics, and received her JD from Dickinson College of Law in 1974.
A true native Washingtonian, Kathleen had a successful and rewarding career of 40 years as a Legislative Attorney at the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. During her time at CRS, she researched and analyzed complex issues for congressional clients, including in the areas of health care and public health law. Just prior to retirement, she received the Director’s Award and was recognized as an attorney dedicated to excellence and superior standards of work. Kathleen had the unique ability to bridge the gap between diverse groups of people; a skill that served her well in her work with Congress.
After her retirement, Kathleen took up photography and quickly moved from a hobby to semi-professional work. Her photos could be routinely seen on the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang posts, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill publications, and University Presbyterian Church website. She also lent her keen eye for detail and natural beauty to volunteer organizations including the Honor Flight Network, Chapel Hill Garden Club, and the Wonder Connection for pediatric patients. Kathleen loved to travel, taking a “bucket-list” trip to the Galapagos Islands for her 70th birthday and 40th wedding anniversary trip to France.
Kathleen is survived by her husband of 42 years, Alan R. Swendiman, children Shelley Stinelli (Adam) and Robert Swendiman (Brenda), and three grandchildren, Luke, Leo, and Lucy. Her family and friends will remember her as thoughtful and kind, generous with her time and talents, and full of positive energy.
A memorial service will be held at National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 11am. For those who would like to make a memorial contribution in honor of Kathleen, the family suggests either the V Foundation for Cancer Research (www.v.org) or the Wonder Connection (http://www.wonderconnection.org/donate).
The Swendiman family is under the care of Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.
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