Catherine “Taffy” Butler Farese
Saint Petersburg – Catherine “Taffy” Butler Farese died peacefully at her home in St Petersburg, surrounded by loved ones, on 19 July 2019, after succumbing to a valiant struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 83 years old. To all who knew her, she personified grace and generosity, love and laughter, and an endless well of empathy for all fellow beings. Her inner light illuminated the lives of all whom she touched.
Taffy was born and raised in the small town of Port Allegheny PA. Her parents were Francis P. Butler and Genevieve Fizzell Butler, both now deceased, and she grew up with her oldersister, Mary Lane Butler and her younger brother F. Patrick Butler. She raised her children in a happy and fun filled house on Tampa Bay, and spent her later years in the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg.
Taffy attended Niagara University, attaining a degree in nursing, just as her older sister before her. She gave the nuns a few grey hairs and attended every reunion that she could. She later donated her nursing cap and cape to a graduating class, never failing to support the classes that followed in the proud nursing tradition. Niagara was always a source of pride and happiness for her, and she stayed in close touch with her classmatesthroughout her life.
In 1958, she met and married the love of her life, a young doctor at Georgetown University, Robert V. Farese. They were married for over 60 years and had five children –
Robert V. Farese, Jr. (m. Nancy Richards), Maria Farese Finazzo(m. Michael Finazzo), Catherine Farese Kaempfer (m. KirtKaempfer), James Patrick Farese (m. Kristin Wolcott), and Margaret Farese Higgs (div. Eric Higgs) – and 18 grandchildren. Taffy was immensely proud and engaged in the lives of her family, never forgetting a birthday, showing up for every graduation, and showering them each with love at every occasion.
Taffy was a woman of many talents and careers, working professionally in both nursing, teaching, and as a Branch Manager for Smith & Associates Realty Company. Her true life’s work however was that of a humanitarian, and her “office” the entire globe. Taffy loved life and loved people. Her life exuded kindness, compassion, and a laser-like focus on the people who crossed her path. She was a “second mother” to many who, no matter how short the encounter, were touched by her forever. She invited many a stranger on the airplane home for Thanksgiving dinner. She was curious and engaging, a brilliant conversationalist, who never missed an opportunity to learn someone’s life story, or share personal experiences. She inherited from her “Da” a whip-sharp memory for names and family histories, and she liked nothing better than to recount the stories of her day over dinner.
Taffy was also an accomplished artist, attending art school at USF in her late 50s, proud to be the oldest, and most serious of the students in class. Her love was folk-art paintings, much in the style of her favorite, Frida Kahlo. Her years in art school were filled with happiness and creativity, allowing her to harmonize the ideas and experiences that brought her joy.
Taffy lived and taught love, making sure the people in her life knew their importance and were always remembered. She lovedpersonal stories; her brilliant mind was constantly engaged in literature and poetry; she was often found leaning into a book of history or art with a grandchild on her lap. She is remembered as a model for the values of generosity, compassion and graciousness, setting a brilliant example for the next generation of how to be a good person and live a happy life. The world could use many more like her, and must certainly shed a tear on losing her.
Taffy leaves such a rich human legacy, in body and spirit. She is survived by her loving husband, her children and her grand-children, Loren Richards Farese, Conor James Farese, Lee Butler Farese, Evan Roy Farese, Grace Catherine Farese, Sarah Maria Finazzo, Michael James Finazzo, Patrick Magill Finazzzo, John Francis Finazzo, Kirt Francis Kaempfer, Dylan Patrick Kaempfer, Catherine Lane Kaempfer, Liam Robert Wolcott Farese, Mara Lane Wolcott Farese, Sarah Jane Wolcott Farese, Aidan Butler Higgs, Declan Etheredge Higgs, and Lane Farese Higgs.
A memorial service for friends and family will be held at the Saint Petersburg Woman’s Club on Saturday, 3 August 2019, at 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be made to the USF School of Art & History or Alzheimer’s research at the USF Foundation.