KATHERINE S. LIVINGSTON, known to family and friends as Tash, died Friday, October 6th 2017 at her home in Camp Sherman, Oregon. She was born on June 1st, 1915 to Lisa (née Eliza Bryson Wood) and Kirk Smith, at the Portland home of her maternal grandparents, C.E.S. and Nanny M. Wood.
Tash grew up in San Rafael, California, and attended the Katherine Branson School in nearby Ross. She was always proud of her performance of the role of Lysander in Midsummer Night’s Dream in their senior class play.
She loved the time she spent at The Cats in Los Gatos with her grandfather and his second wife, Sara Bard Field. When she was 11, C.E.S. wrote “I love Tash because she is always herself. Maybe good, maybe bad, never uncertain, and always Tash – I love her.”
After graduating from the Katherine Branson School, Tash went east, and graduated from Bennington College in 1939. Her senior thesis was titled “Birth Control: Its Background and Contemporary Problem,” and much of what she wrote then is germane today. While at Bennington, Tash enjoyed spending vacation time with her paternal uncles and cousins in Concord, Massachusetts. They were many, since her father was the only one of seven brothers to leave Concord.
While on a visit home from college, Tash was introduced to Ken Livingston, a student at Stanford whose father was Nanny Wood’s personal physician in Portland. Tash and Ken married in San Rafael in 1937, then moved to Boston for Ken’s residency at the Leahy Clinic.
During World War II they were stationed at the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in California, and after the war returned to Massachusetts, settling in Dover. Tash was very happy there, but in 1948 Ken decided to start a neurosurgical practice in Portland. She wasn’t thrilled with the move… she was no fan of the rain, and loved California!
In 1948 they moved to Portland, where she became active in cultural and progressive political circles. Her connection with the Portland Symphony began a friendship with Marge Bloomfield that remained strong for the rest of her life. For four years she served on the board of the League of Women Voters, and was a leader of the Jane Jefferson Democratic Women’s Club. In 1957 Governor Bob Holmes appointed Tash to the newly-created state Board of Agriculture; her job on the board was to represent consumer interests (what a novel idea!). She was a founding member of The Reading Club, a group of women whose ties remain so strong that after a hiatus of several decades, she seamlessly rejoined them upon her eventual return to Oregon.
Tash loved the dry side of the Cascades, and enjoyed summer trips to the Wood camp on the Metolius River, a place she had first known in the 1920s. Visits to the Corbett ranch, upstream from the Wood camp, whetted her appetite for a piece of land in the Metolius Basin. She got hold of Johnny Bruns, the Corbett's foreman, and asked if he knew of any land for sale on the river. He thought Eleanor Bechen might want to sell her 40-acre place on Spring Creek, since the Fish Commission had put in a small dam, ruining (to Eleanor's mind) the site as a potential resort. Tash loved the property, and worked to secure it for her family. Her fervent wish to preserve its natural and undeveloped state forever was realized in 2011, through a partnership with the Deschutes Land Trust.
In 1960 Ken was recruited to bring his neurosurgical skills to Nemazee and Saadi Hospitals in Shiraz, Iran. Tash was delighted with the idea of living in a warm place where the sun shone bright and warm. The following year Ken accepted a US State Department position as Visiting Dean of Pahlavi University, tasked with the goal of helping the existing medical school align with the standards of US medical education.
Tash enjoyed a busy social life with her Persian friends, many of whom became a second family. Closest among those are Bahram and Ziba Javid, Minou Moshiri, Zhaleh and Mohsen Mahloudji, their children, grandchildren and their extended families. Those family ties will live on for generations to come.
Tash also volunteered at the Red Lion & Sun orphanage, playing with toddlers, cleaning and feeding hungry infants, and advocating for time in the sun and in the garden. In Shiraz she met Terence O’Donnell, a Portland native who lived fifteen years in Iran. They were devoted to each other, and his exquisite book of tales, “Garden of the Brave in War,” held many poignant memories they shared over the years.
Tash and Ken left Iran in 1968, moving to Toronto Canada, where in 1970 Tash became principal of the Montcrest School. Under her leadership, the school grew dramatically, and added a program for children with learning disabilities (inspired by her granddaughter Roxanna, who had dyslexia). She retired from Montcrest in 1982, after Ken was struck by a catastrophic illness. They returned to Oregon, settling on the banks of Spring Creek in Camp Sherman.
After his death in 1984, Tash lived in Boulder Colorado, Santa Cruz California, and Portland, eventually shifting her orbit to Camp Sherman. In her later years, Tash enjoyed the companionship of her friend Edgar Crumpacker, and Fred Giari, who had been her beau in high school in San Rafael.
She enjoyed hosting her poetry lyceum every month or so, as well as meditation sits. When she was no longer able to walk the paths at Spring Creek, she took great delight in being carried around in her home-made palanquin – especially when the snow was deep! Her door was always open, and there was always room for an extra place at her table. Her role in honoring her grandfather’s century-old promise of a stallion for the Nez Perce led to a deep connection with Silas Whitman, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. The generosity of her spirit lives on.
Toward the end of her life, Tash asked herself, “Why have I lived so long?” Her answer was “Love and laughter, and good friends, especially among the young.”
Tash was predeceased by her husband Ken, her sister, Nan Johns, her brother, Kirk Smith, her granddaughter Roxanna Kennedy, and her great-grandson Matthew Kennedy. She is survived by her two children, Bruce Livingston (Bethany Rowland), and Eliza Livingston (Clarke Bingham), and the children she embraced as her own – Philip Krohn (Katherine Armer) and Susan Krohn Koe; grand-children Matthew Voorsanger (Susan Loftus), Katherine Bleakley (Allen Webster), Benjamin (Laura), Monique, Rebecca, and Dominic Franceschi, Ace Krohn, Sarah and Peter Koe, Kurt (Barbara) Bingham, Carolyn (Jim) Reverman, and great grand-children Nicholas and Jessica Voorsanger, Cameron Patten, Isaac, Peter, and Lena Franceschi; Grant and Quinlan Bingham, and Jacob and Jordyn Reverman. Tash is also survived by a nephew and several nieces, including Cynthia, Sara and Laura Smith, and Justyn Livingston.
Tash always looked forward to the heartfelt and healing ministrations of her dear friend, Bob Levitt. Her special relationship with her doctor and friend, Joe Bachtold, was a joy to behold. We are thankful to Dr. Joe, his wife Gwen, and the staff at the St. Charles Family Clinic for the years of kind, thoughtful care.
We are deeply grateful to the Spring Creek Angels, whose devoted companionship and care in Tash’s last years nurtured her indomitable spirit and vitality to the very end: Terry Jolly, Karen Sheldahl, Sister Bear Brown, Judy Sims, Kathy Walsh, Kathy Bourdage, Susie Prince, Tsering Dolmah, and Joyce Rayburn. The compassionate support of Redmond Hospice during Tash’s last months gave her and us great comfort.
Among the many friends and family who contributed to her care and well-being over the years, we are especially grateful to Kirk Metzger and Glen Corbett, Gail Butler and Les Schell, and Michael Stone for coming to her aid in so many ways.
The commitment and devotion of many special members of that community made sure she was warm, safe, and well-cared for in all seasons. We want to express our love and gratitude for the multitude of friends who brought her companionship and love, laughter and joy, a good martini, dark chocolate, and so much more.