Catherine Adele Erickson
Catherine Adele Erickson was born on August 20, 1953, to Margaret Adele (Bryan) and Newell “Eric” Erickson, Jr., in Mondovi, WI, the second of six Erickson children. On September 12, 2021, she died at home in Minneapolis after living with pancreatic cancer for 4.5 years.
Cathy attended Mondovi High School, graduating with the class of ’71. An active participant in school activities from band to student council, Cathy regaled her friends and family with her stories of being selected as the third runner-up in the Miss Mondovi pageant. Foreshadowing her career to come, Cathy was proud to wear the stripes of the “teenettes,” volunteering at the Mondovi Hospital.
Pursuing a nursing degree was a natural follow-on, and Cathy completed a B.S. in Nursing in 1975 from UW-Eau Claire.
She began her lifelong dedication to a career in Nursing and specialized in Newborn Intensive Care at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire. After a few years, she moved to Madison, where she advanced her career and became a Neonatal Transport Nurse Clinician. As a clinician, Cathy was involved in emergency transport and stabilization of premature and sick newborns in the Madison area. In 1981, Cathy stepped up to become the Assistant Head Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.
Cathy transitioned into consulting work in risk management and work injury and disability care coordination. She became a Medical Case Manager for several companies in Minneapolis, helping industrially injured employees return to work. She eventually formed her own company and worked closely with the City of Minneapolis in the same capacity.
In 2019, she returned to school to earn her Clinical Doctorate in Nursing from the University of Minnesota. Her doctoral studies focused on the transition from pediatric to adult health care for children with complex medical needs. She retired from a position in Public Health from HCMC, focusing on mother-baby care for underserved families, which required home visits to follow-up on families & provide care after leaving the hospital.
The instant one met Cathy, you realized her greatest joy was her daughter. Margaret “Maggie” Catherine was born in 1991. Maggie’s birth motivated Cathy to become a persistent advocate for children with learning disabilities, and earned Cathy state and national recognition. Championing equal opportunities in education and the community for all with disabilities. She served on the Down Syndrome Association of MN board multiple times. She was recently honored with establishing a Memorial Fund in her name to continue support for individuals with Down’s Syndrome.
Being “Maggie’s Mom” led to her involvement with Jack’s Basket, as she & Maggie participated in welcoming new babies with Down’s Syndrome into the world and supporting their families. Cathy & Maggie were also active in Gigi’s Playhouse, Special Olympics, and events at Arc Value Village. She was involved in the American Lung Association and volunteered as Camp Nurse for many years at Camp SuperKids.
She & Maggie moved to Abiitan Mill City in downtown Minneapolis in 2017, and both treasured their new, highly supportive community in the middle of the vibrant waterfront.
Recognizing Cathy’s nursing and advocacy work, a named professorship has been established at UW-Madison in her honor. The Catherine A Erickson chair is awarded to a faculty member from an underrepresented group in the Computer, Data & Information Sciences School. Consideration is given to work with K-12 students, who desperately need foundations in computing to pursue careers in virtually any discipline.
Cathy is missed by her beloved daughter, Maggie and Maggie’s husband, Aidan Kilgannon; her siblings, Beth (Jerry) Speckien, Sara Erickson, Tom Erickson and Peg (Lew) Rambo; her nieces and nephews, Amy Speckien (Josh Scott), Ben (Corinne) Speckien, Shanna (Bryan) Dahl, Ross Biederman (Tarra Kennelley), BreeAnn Biederman, Anders Erickson, and Tom Erickson. She is also missed by great-nieces and nephews: Aleah, Claire, Jack, Degan, Charlie, and Louie.
We invite you to celebrate Cathy’s life with family on Saturday, October 9 at 4 p.m. at The Depot, 225 3rd Ave. South, Minneapolis MN 55401. Burial will be in Oak Park Cemetery in Mondovi WI, on Sunday, October 10 at 1 p.m.
Please send memorials to the Catherine Erickson fund at the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (DSAM). The fund supports efforts and programs for individuals with Down syndrome as they transition to and grow through adulthood, increasing access to high-quality healthcare and support.