Katherine “Kathy” Byrnes

Katherine “Kathy” Elaine Erwin Byrnes, 61, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away surrounded by family on January 24, 2017. A visitation will be from 2:00-3:00 pm followed by a memorial mass at 3:00 pm at Cure of Ars Catholic Church, 9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, Kansas on January 29, 2017. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made towards a memorial bench in Little Mill Creek North Park at https://www.gofundme.com/kathy-byrnes-memorial-park-bench.

Cherished daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, partner, co-worker and friend, Kathy’s legacy is one of love. All who know her are shocked and devastated by her untimely death. Her compassionate and accepting nature was matched only by her brilliance, creativity, advocacy and bravery for the right and just cause. Daughter-in-law Cori Byrnes writes, “She was the epitome of kindness and grace. She had an incredible servant heart and loved her family fiercely. To say we are devastated is an understatement, she was taken from us too soon. Every day we will remember her for her ability to love and be loved.”

Kathy is survived by her mother, Jean Erwin, children Michael, Nik and Tori, daughter-in-law Cori and grandson Jameson, partner Jeneal Pearson, sisters Christine Hempowicz and Lisa Emond, and brothers Blane and Jim Erwin.

Kathy was were born in St. Louis Missouri on June 26, 1955 to (the late) James Henry Erwin and Jean Mitchell Erwin. She graduated from Shawnee Mission South High School and went on to postsecondary education, earning her first bachelor’s degree in general studies followed by a Master of Arts degree and then the M.S.W., all from the University of Kansas. Kathy worked for years as a social worker, both in hospital and community settings, and in a social work research position. Her career as a social worker also included counseling families in crisis and providing expert testimony in court as an advocate. More recently, Kathy returned to school to pursue a new career in nursing, eventually earning her associates degree in nursing from Kansas City Kansas Community College and then Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She worked to improve the standard of care for prisoners during her first nursing position while employed by Johnson County Adult Detention Center Medical Services. Kathy was employed by the University of Kansas Medical Center at the time of her death.


  1. Vicki Valencia on January 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss! I am honored to have known her. Kathy brought love and light to every life she touched. My heart grieves with yours. She will be missed.

  2. Heather Penka on January 27, 2017 at 5:56 am

    I am so sorry for your loss!!! I am shocked by her passing! Kathy was an amazing person and such and inspiration in nursing school! She will be greatly missed!

  3. Robin Runnels on January 27, 2017 at 7:14 am

    I am so saddened and shocked by this untimely passing. I’m very happy to have known her. She was such a wonderful person. She will be missed.

  4. Rajwinder Kaur on January 27, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am shocked by her passing. She was such an amazing Person. She will be missed.

  5. Amy Zeller (Lindsay) on January 27, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I am so sorry to hear of Kathy passing. She was such an amazing woman. I remember clinicals with her like it was yesterday. My heart is heavy today.

  6. Krissie Sanders on January 27, 2017 at 8:15 am

    I am so sorry. I came to know Kathy during nursing school. She was one of the sweetest, most generous, and kind people I’ve ever known. Thoughts and prayers…

  7. Thomas Grey on January 27, 2017 at 10:12 am

    This is indeed an untimely loss. I, too, am glad to have met and studied with her at KCKCC. The world seems a bit colder today.

  8. Vane omosa on January 27, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Kathy was a wonderful person.May her soul rest in internal peace!

  9. Kathy Robertson on January 27, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Kathy was such a wonderful woman. She had such a big heart for people. I was shocked to hear of her passing. I know she will be missed.
    My greatest sympathies to her family.

  10. Jessica Schons on January 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I am very saddened to hear of her passing. Kathy was a very sweet soul who did everything she could to help others. I am fortunate enough to have met her during nursing school. She will be missed by so many. My condolences to the family.

  11. John Sun on January 27, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I will miss you Kathy.

  12. Aurelia Mitchell on January 27, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hey Nikki and Tori,

    I can’t stop thinking about you two. I’m sorry you’re mom has left us all. She was a wonderful person who I had fond memories of every time I came over to visit and gave me strength to keep loving. She will be missed.

  13. Lynne Stallbaumer on January 27, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this. She always had an encouraging word and was more than willing to help anyone and listen. My heart goes out to Jeneal and family.

  14. Misty Robertson on January 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of this loss!! I was privileged to have met Kathy during our nursing school adventure. She was a true blessing to all placed in her path. She will be greatly missed. May God bring peace and comfort to all during this time.

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