Katharine "Katy" Barnes

June 7, 2023


With her son Gregg, holding one hand and daughter Lisa the other, Katy left this earth on June 7th, serenaded by The Sound of Music.

Katy was born in 1937 in Philadelphia, PA to Sen. A. Evans Kephart and Ruth Hill Kephart.  She attended Agnes Irwin School from 1st-12th grade and enjoyed several summers in Bermuda and others in Hanover, NH. In Hanover, a life-long love for tennis, skiing, and figure skating was born along with a love for all outdoor pursuits offered by the four seasons of NH. 

At the family dude ranch in West Yellowstone, Montana, Katy learned to fish, ride horses, and identify and appreciate birds and all manner of wildlife. Later, she brought her children there and organized group landscape painting classes to give others a chance to capture the beauty of Big Sky country.

Shortly after graduating from Colorado College, Katy and Chris were married, and the following summer welcomed Gregg and two years later, Lisa. After living in several states to pursue advanced degrees, they were drawn to the simple, outdoorsy lifestyle offered by NH and moved to Fitzwilliam in 1965 where opportunities for skiing, sledding, skating, swimming, softball, tennis, bike riding, hiking, gardening and berry-picking abounded. Seeing a need and moving to fill it (a practice that came easily to her), Katy co-founded the Fitzwilliam Cooperative Preschool, and thus this newly-minted political science major, wife and mother began a teaching career lasting well over three decades.

In 1968, Katy was the first teacher hired by co-founders Jay and Toni Garland at The Well School. Katy blossomed in this developing community of children, families, educators and life-long learners. The freedom to create and explore, employing thoughtful and non-traditional teaching modalities was of endless interest, and pitching in to do whatever was needed on any given day was exciting and rewarding. Around the dining table at The Well, Katy found her people, and for 17 years celebrated the simple gifts and wisdom that each new relationship brought. For the next decade as Chris was resident director, Katy found a home at MacDowell to blend her Philadelphia upbringing with her love for the Monadnock region to create exquisite functions during Medal weekend, to creatively fundraise as a MacDowell NH Foundation trustee, and to curate events to support and appreciate the artists-in-residence. She had the brilliant idea to have MacDowell-authored books on a special bookshelf still on display at the Toadstool bookstore. While at the helm of the Peterborough Woman's Club and the Garden Club, she literally dug in and spent hours renovating the gardens at Hillcrest as chairperson of the landscape committee for historic preservation.

A natural athlete, her tennis competitions included playing with Chris, Gregg and Lisa as doubles partners in Jaffrey tournaments over the years. She captained and played for many teams at the Monadnock Indoor Tennis Club. She played on Rays Dogs softball team with family and friends, and for over a decade wielded a mean stick for the Sugar Mamas adult field hockey team. Katy enjoyed a wide variety of music and loved to sing with her family, students and co-workers. In her later years, as Alzheimer’s stole her ability to speak as she was accustomed, she would cheerfully sing and hum her way through her day. 

Always on the go, with talented friends Katy enthusiastically ran the Antiquarian Book Fair from the mid-80's through the mid-90's, and then organized the NH Scottish games; she was for years a trustee at the Crotched Mountain Foundation, MATS (Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter), executive director of NH Dance Institute, and the activities director at Summerhill Assisted Living where later as a resident she spent her final year. With Chris she co-founded Arts Pro Tem, an organization connecting artists with towns, schools and individuals for education and celebration, hosting landscape painting classes in Montana, NH, and Scotland.

Katy was predeceased by Chris, her husband of 61 years, and her sister Susy Simpson. Katy is survived by Gregg and wife Hayley, Lisa and husband Andy, and will be dearly missed by grandchildren Tyler, Scott, Jenna, Ben and Sam, all of Massachusetts, as well as many treasured nieces, nephews, and two step-brothers. A celebration of life service will be held at her beloved All Saints' Church in Peterborough, NH on Wednesday, July 19 at 3pm. All are welcome.

Memorial gifts may be made in Katy’s name to The Founders’ Table at The Well School:


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Celebration of Life
July 19, 2023

3:00 PM
All Saints Episcopal Church (Peterborough)
51 Concord Street
Peterborough, NH 03458


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