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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.