Lou Jeanne Cress Catlin

Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Date of Birth

June 1st, 1924

Date of Death

January 1st, 2010

Memorial Meeting

Phoenix Monthly Meeting


Lou Jeanne was born in June 1924 in Evanston, Illinois, to Ruth Haste Minor and Elmer Weirich Cress. She graduated from Radford College in Radford, Virginia in 1946, earning credentials for teaching English and French. She taught at Bedford High School in Bedford, Virginia and soon met and became engaged to Robert William (Bill) Catlin of Bedford. A pilot in the Marine Corps in World War II, Bill had recently returned to civilian life in Bedford. Lou Jeanne and Bill were married in 1947 in New York, and settled briefly in Hartford, Connecticut. They then resided in Salisbury, Baltimore, and Sandy Spring, Maryland. Two daughters, Amy and Martha, were born in Salisbury, and two sons, Robert and George, in Sandy Spring.

Lou Jeanne’s divine gifts have most often been expressed in her compassionate and intuitive sensing, and nurturing, of the divine gifts in others. Her gentleness masked a great strength born of a determination to hold close to the goodness and love that she recognized as blessings early in life. Although Lou Jeanne’s parents’ early divorce caused hardship, Lou Jeanne, her younger sister Barbara Ann, and their mother Ruth were a close and loving family. As a child growing up in the Great Depression, Lou Jeanne lived with her family much of the time in Baltimore boarding houses where, having an early fascination with human nature, she became known for her audacious “boarding house newspapers.” Although at first she approached it as a creative outlet, she soon came to believe that her candid reporting could actually make a difference by instilling a more acceptable standard of behavior in her elders.

In her first year of marriage, before the birth of her first child, Lou Jeanne suddenly lost her beloved mother, as a result of an automobile accident. With this loss, she committed her life, and her own motherhood, to honoring the profound love she and her mother shared. Traveling to the center of her grief, she found the divine source of her love and entered a sacred realm where love is renewed with each unfolding moment of life. Each of her four children, and then countless others on her life’s journey, came to experience this transformative gift through her love and compassion, and through the resonance of her patient, silent waiting on the Lord.

In 1955, when the family moved to a rural part of Montgomery County, Maryland, Lou Jeanne’s life was enriched when she found her spiritual home as a seeker of Truth with the Society of Friends at the nearby Sandy Spring Friends Meeting. For the next eight years, she and her children were welcomed, educated, loved, and nurtured by a remarkable and inspiring community of Friends. From 1963 to 1965, when the family lived in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Lou Jeanne continued her commitment to Quakerism, attending Downer’s Grove Friends Meeting. Relocating with her family to Arizona in 1965, she began her long association with the Phoenix Friends Meeting. There her spirit and spirituality, her humility, and her dignity have touched, encouraged, and inspired Friends for over forty years.

Honoring her own gifts in, and affinity for, music, literature, theater, and the arts, Lou Jeanne joyfully embraced new influences and experiences throughout her life. She read widely, attended concerts and plays, and as her children grew up, returned to the classroom as a student of philosophy, literature, comparative religion, and other subjects that held promise of enrichment and fellowship. She also briefly revived her onstage theatrical talents, acting in community college productions. She traveled to Europe, China, India, Russia, and throughout the U.S., usually with her husband Bill, and sometimes traveling, or meeting up with, a son, daughter, grandchild, or friend to renew and deepen the bonds of love.

While always learning with each new experience, friendship, and spiritual quest, Lou Jeanne was ultimately a humble teacher. In her quiet presence, still felt by all who have loved her, the resonance of her faith draws seekers of Truth into the realm of divine love that was her passion to experience and the share.

Lou Jeanne was preceded in death by her sister Barbara Ann Cress Pridgeon. She is survived by her husband Robert William Catlin, daughters Amy Ruth Catlin-Jairazbhoy (Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy) of Los Angeles, California and Martha Claire Catlin (John Patrick Byrne) of Alexandria, Virginia; sons Robert Cress Catlin (Lori Schwartz-Catlin) of Williamstown, Massachusetts and George Edward Catlin of Phoenix; grandchildren Jeffrey, Shira, Eli, and Bayla Catlin.