The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 23, 2014

Katharine “Kay” Stepp

Palestine Herald-Press

— Katharine “Kay” Blount Stepp lost her long battle with inflammatory breast cancer on Jan. 19, 2014 in Palestine, Texas. She is now resting in peace where there is no more pain and suffering.

Kay was a life-long supporter of our armed forces, especially her “Navy.” She was born into a military family in Corpus Christi, Texas, where her parents, LCDR Robert P. Blount, USN Retired (Bob) and Mrs. Bobby Ann Blount, were serving on active duty with the U.S. Navy. Growing up in this Navy family, her early years were spent in numerous different locations on the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii, and Japan, finally setting in Alamogordo, New Mexico where she graduated from high school.

Following a short period at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., Kay continued the family Navy tradition and enlisted herself. She spent six years on active duty as a Navy Yeoman, working in the administrative offices of a fighter squadron at the Navy Air Station, Miramar, San Diego, Calif., and on the staff of the Commander, Third Fleet at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Following her active duty service, she spent an additional two years in the Naval Reserve while working as an administrative clerk in the Naval Sea Systems Command office in San Diego.

During her tour of duty in Hawaii, Kay met her husband of 34 years, CDR. William E. Stepp, USN Retired (Bill). They were married on New Year’s Eve in 1979. They spent their final years of his active Naval service in Yokosuka, Japan and the Territory of Guam. Bill retired on Guam from the Navy the same month that their oldest daughter, Keila Rebecca, was born. Following military service, they lived and worked on Guam; in Marion, N.C.; Woodbridge, Va.; and, Las Cruces, N.M. Their youngest daughter, Kristen Ann, was born while they were living in North Carolina.

While living in Las Cruces, Bill was employed as a project manager by the Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University. He spent the following 21 years in various management positions with the laboratory, retiring from the university on July 1, 2013. One of the government contracts managed by the laboratory was for the operation and maintenance of the NASA high altitude scientific research balloon facility here in Palestine, the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF). In 1999, they were transferred from the main laboratory in New Mexico to CSBF. Kay and he moved to Palestine in July 1999.

Kay was no stranger to East Texas. Her parents had deep roots in the area, principally with ties to Nacogdoches. She was extremely proud of being able to trace her ancestors back to Steven W. Blount Sr., a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Kay was an avid bowler, bridge player, and enjoyed golf. In Las Cruces, she bowled on several leagues, and won the Las Cruces Women’s Bowling League Queens Tournament in 1996. She and other ladies from Las Cruces competed in numerous state tournaments, and in two National Ladies Tournaments. In Palestine, Kay also was a regular player in several bridge groups, playing regularly with the group playing at the Church of Christ on Thursdays.

In other activities, Kay was active in the Palestine Newcomers Club, the Dogwood Garden Club, and the Museum for East Texas Culture. She held various offices in all of these organizations.

Kay was predeceased by her mother, Bobby Ann Blount.

She is survived by her father, Bob Blount of Alamogordo, N.M.; her husband, Bill Stepp; daughter, Keila and husband Josh Keith, of Tyler; daughter, Kristen and husband Staff Sergeant Shane de la Torre, currently stationed with the U.S. Air Force on Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan, with grandson Damacio Lucas de la Torre. She is also survived by brother and sister-in-law, Curt and Kaudia Blount of Hot Springs, Ark.; and sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Wayne Haddock of Alamogordo, N.M.

She was predeceased and survived by many deep and caring friendships from Palestine, Las Cruces, and Alamogordo. She loved you all.

Kay was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2004, and was treated for the disease by MD Anderson Cancer Center and Texas Oncology Palestine throughout its course. Consequently, it is requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Development Office, PO Box 4464, Houston, Texas 77210-4464; or, to a local “cure for cancer” charity of the donor’s choice.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, at Crockett Road Church of Christ with Dan Manuel officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Herrington/Land of Memory Funeral Home.

A visitation will be held one hour prior to the memorial service at the church.

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