With deep sadness, we inform the Westfield State University of the passing of Dr. Catherine A. Dower, a beloved professor emerita, friend, champion and donor. Dr. Dower's enduring affection for and loyalty to the University is an inspiration for us all.
We extend our sincere condolences to the Dower family and to her many students, friends and colleagues with whom she connected during her 35-year tenure at Westfield State and in the many years that followed, as she remained engaged and committed to students’ success.
Her impact and legacy will live on through the recently opened Catherine Dower Center for the Performing and Fine Arts and the teaching of the next generation of music performers, educators and artists at Westfield State.
Dr. Dower's obituary and arrangements are below.
HOLYOKE: Dr. Catherine A. Dower, beloved sister of Paul W. Dower, passed away peacefully on Friday, February 17, 2017 in Holyoke. Catherine's kind spirit touched so many people, home and abroad, as an educator, scholar, author, poet, social advocate, volunteer, philanthropist and caring individual. She devoted her life to others, and aspired to excellence in all that she did. After graduating from South Hadley High School and spending two years studying piano and organ at the Elms College with her aunt, Sister Lawrence Marie (Catherine I. Dower) SSJ, Catherine went on to earn an undergraduate degree in music composition from Hamline University in 1945, a master of arts degree in musicology from Smith College in 1948, and a Ph.D. degree, with distinction, from Catholic University in 1968. She went on to write several books and articles, and was a passionate researcher of music from Ireland and Puerto Rico, as well as of the early music of the Catholic Church, Gregorian Chant. Catherine enjoyed studying at the Solesmes Benedictine Abby in France where she discovered what she called "the most beautiful music on Earth." Her breadth as a scholar led her to write other books including those of influential yet underrepresented women in music, of Renaissance music from the Sistine Chapel Codices, and of the first 50 years of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade, for which she passionately volunteered her time and energy for many years. Catherine maintained a very strong faith, and was active at her church, Our Lady of the Holy Cross, and with its affiliated school, Mater Dolorosa. Catherine began her close relationship with Westfield State University in 1956, and over the following 60 years built an unmatched legacy of academic and artistic excellence, social justice, gender equality, and selfless kindness. She served as a professor of music history and literature, director of the Glee Club, chair of the Music Department, and professor emerita. She inspired her students to dream big and to expand their world, as she famously traveled with her students to perform in the nation's capital, in New York City, and abroad. Catherine's legacy to Westfield State was further strengthened as she became the first woman to have a campus academic building named in her honor, the Catherine Dower Center for the Performing and Fine Arts. Catherine was a proud member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nations oldest academic honor society, and she belonged to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. She was a founding member and served as president for the Council for Human Understanding and was recognized with the Human Relations Award in 2016. She was a founding member of the Massachusetts chapter of the Irish American Cultural Institute, and she served on the board of directors for the Hispanic Institute of Holyoke. She has served for many years as president and member of the Friends of the Holyoke Public Library. Catherine is survived by her brother and was predeceased by her mother, Marie (Barber) Dower, her father Lawrence Dower, her sister Frances Dower, and her husband Dr. Arthur Gold. A celebration of Catherine's life will take place at Westfield State University later this spring. Memorial contributions can be made to the Westfield State Foundation Inc., in support of the Catherine Dower Music Scholarship, Office of Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 1630 Westfield Massachusetts, 01086-1630. Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. in Our Lady of the Cross Parish Church, 23 Sycamore Street in Holyoke. Burial will follow in St. Rose Cemetery, South Hadley. There are no calling hours. The Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.