Catherine (Katie) Lynch died on Dec. 5 after a brief and unexpected battle with cancer.

She was born on Nov. 7, 1949, grew up in Watertown, and spent her summers on Martha’s Vineyard with her family. Over the years, the Vineyard served to bring her family and friends together and remained a central part of her life until the end. As a teenager on the Vineyard, she built a mirror dinghy with her father from a blueprint and the boat sailed on Menemsha Pond for years.

In her youth, Katie also rode horses, threw pots and played the flute rather well. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in civilization studies from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in East Asian History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She taught East Asian history for over 23 years, and retired from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2007, where she was a devoted teacher and scholar and department chair from 2005 to 2007.

Katie spent more than seven years in China between early study abroad and later research trips, spending considerable time in Beijing, Suzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai. In her retirement, she was a fellow at the Institute of Modern Chinese Thought and Culture, East China Normal University, in Shanghai, China. Katie was an accomplished scholar in modern Chinese intellectual history and during her brief illness, she finalized two major works for publication on the thinker and social activist Liang Shuming—the culmination of decades of research.

Katie also spent her retirement serving on two Chaplin town boards, on the board of directors for the Coventry Lake Community Rowing club, and devoted time to the Eastern Connecticut land conservancy, Joshua’s Trust, where she formed half of the boundary “crew.” Her friends loved her for her warmth, good humor, constant smile, and intellectual curiosity. She had a passion for learning and a zest for life.

As an enthusiastic justice of the peace for the town of Chaplin, Katie officiated at several weddings over the years, including those of friends. Katie loved good food and good company and will be sorely missed by all her friends and family.

She was predeceased by her parents, Anne Borders and Kevin Lynch. She leaves behind her siblings and their families: brother David Lynch and his daughter Sophia; sister Laura Lynch and her husband Hans Peters; and brother Peter Lynch, his wife Jessica, and their sons Ian and Micah. She also leaves behind her cousin Molly Borders and her daughter Cynthia, her dear friend Naomi London, and her two Connecticut families: Hill, Andy and Sarah Bullard and Sarah’s daughter, Simonne, and Nicole Krassas, husband John Moran, and their daughters Maggie and Anna.

A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held in the Johnson Room of the Eastern Connecticut State Library in Willimantic, Conn. at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 2. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in her name to Coventry Lake Community Rowing, Inc., 412 Browns Road, Storrs, CT 06268 or to Joshua’s Trust, 624 Wormwood Hill Road, Mansfield Center, CT 06250.

The rowing club is naming a boat after Katie and she was honored by the gesture. She said she liked to think of herself as a boat and we like to think of her rowing off to her next adventure.

For an online memorial guestbook please visit