ALBANY- Katherine Anne Onufer departed the care of her loving parents on the morning of Thursday, August 20, 2020 at the Hospice Inn of St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, N.Y. She died of complications from cancer.
Katherine was born along with her twin sister Jennifer on Christmas Eve of 1980 in Watertown, N.Y. to Richard and Nancy Onufer, who raised them in Constable, N.Y. Katherine would have you know, she was born first.
Katherine attended Franklin Academy in Malone, N.Y., where she graduated in the top ten percent of her class. Katherine enjoyed music and theater all her life. She played oboe and clarinet at Franklin Academy, where she earned selections to several All-County and All-State ensembles. She also performed in numerous Winter Carnival Reviews and Reunion Concerts, sang in the school choir and Swinging Sounds, and acted in many North Country Theater Group and Franklin Academy Players productions. Her activities included running cross-country, dancing with the North Country Ballet Ensemble, competing at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament, and competing at the Tournament of Champions as a Whiz Kid.
As an active 4-H’er, Katherine served as president of her club, participated in and judged the 4-H demonstration program, earned both Junior and Senior 4-H’er of the year awards, sewed for the Franklin County 4-H Clothing Review, exhibited at the Franklin County Fair, and attended 4-H Camp Overlook in Owls Head, N.Y. as a camper and counselor, where she demonstrated an uncommon devotion to the Polar Bear Swim.
Katherine graduated summa cum laude from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology and Interior Design in 2003. In 2006, she earned a Master of Architecture from Syracuse University. Following graduation, Katherine sought to specialize in historic preservation architecture, and found work as a Designer and Project Manager with Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects of Albany, N.Y. In September 2013, she signed on with John G. Waite Associates, Architects, in Albany as a Project Architect. She passed the Architect Registration Examination to become a licensed architect in New York State in January 2015, and in 2018 John G. Waite Associates, Architects named her an Associate.
During Katherine’s tenure with these two firms, she worked on architectural restoration projects across the country, including buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Jefferson, McKim, and Mead & White. Locally, she led the interior renovation and restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany which earned an Excellence in Historic Preservation award from the Preservation League of New York in 2011. Katherine’s team are recognized by the Preservation League and the Historic Albany Foundation for their improvements to the Great Western Staircase of the New York State Capitol. Katherine’s recent projects include work at the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, N.Y.; a multi-million dollar restoration of Carr’s Hill, the President’s House of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; and supporting the massive restoration and rehabilitation of Cincinnati Union Terminal, which earned awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Institute of Architects.
Katherine enjoyed traveling with her family across the country as a child and continued to be an eager world tourist as an adult setting foot on four continents with journeys across Europe and to more far-flung destinations like China, Tibet, and Peru. At home, Katherine found time in her busy schedule to become an accomplished seamstress, an avid gardener, a fond collector of Blue Willow pattern china, and a doting caregiver to her mischievous and photogenic cats.
Katherine led an active spiritual life, beginning with reading at services at St. Francis of Assisi in Constable as a youth. She was confirmed 1998 and continued to devote herself to faith communities throughout her life. In Albany, she became a beloved member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where she helped anchor the choir’s alto section, in addition to frequently performing the oboe. Among her many good works can be counted the patience she demonstrated in teaching her former-subway riding fiancé to drive following his move to Albany from New York City.
She is survived by her twin sister Jennifer Onufer of Pope Valley, Calif., mother Nancy Onufer of Glenmont, N.Y., and father Richard Onufer of Constable, N.Y. She is also survived by her fiancé Tristan Lowery of Albany, N.Y.; uncle Norman Davis and cousins Shanna Davis, Chad, Davis, and Tonya Beshon of Beekmantown, N.Y.; aunt Beatrice Davis of North Haverhill, N.H.; cousin Stephanie Davis of Bethlehem, N.H.; aunt Dorothy Onufer of Mesa, Ariz.; cousin Lucy Wilcox of Gig Harbor, Wash.; uncle Russel Onufer and aunt Debi Zenari-Onufer of San Diego, Calif., cousin Lisa Rucci of Bothell, Wash., and cousin Parker Onufer of La Jolla, Ca. She is predeceased by her grandparents George and Alice Onufer and Jack and Mary Davis, as well as her uncle Stephen Davis.
There will be a small service in the Linden Grove Cremation Garden at Albany Rural Cemetery in the coming days. A larger celebration of Katherine’s life is planned for next year and will include the things she loved: ice cream, music, flowers, and her friends and family. The family welcomes donations in her name in lieu of flowers to the Historic Albany Foundation, 89 Lexington Avenue, Albany, NY 12206.
The music of her life ended too soon.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home in Albany and online condolences may be offered to the family at www.danielkeenanfuneralhome.com.