Cathy Talmadge, left photo, at Wakeman Town Farm, where she volunteered for many years and served on the board. At right, she is shown on a hike, one of her favorite leisure pursuits. / Contributed photos

Following is the obituary for CATHY (CATHERINE) CASSEL TALMADGE, submitted by her family.


Cathy Talmadge

After a long and very public battle with sarcoidosis and kidney disease, followed by a very rapid and private battle with esophageal cancer, Cathy (Catherine) Cassel Talmadge, of Westport, beloved wife, mother, sister, community member and friend, succumbed to her illness on Dec. 30, 2022, at the age of 71. 

Born to William Gilbert Cassel and Joe Anna Brown Cassel on Dec. 9, 1951, Cathy spent her first few years in Oakland, Calif., and Rochester, Minn., before the family moved back to her parents’ hometown of Dayton, Ohio, where Cathy spent her childhood and graduated from Fairview High School. 

In 1975, Cathy received her BA in dance performance with a minor in philosophy from Denison University. Cathy practiced modern dance and moved to Breckenridge, Col0., where she met her husband, Tom Talmadge, in 1977. Their early courting years were carefree, on the slopes and spent with friends in local venues. 

In 1979, Cathy decided to return to school to obtain her MBA at University of Denver with high hopes of opening a dance studio. And while that dream never came to fruition, she did discover a talent for business and communications during a time where it was not so common for women to have their MBA. 

She soon got swept up into several business operations, most notably her successful career at Time Warner Cable, where she worked from 1982 to 2001. Over her nearly 20 years with the company, Cathy rose to become vice president of finance and became a true pioneer for women in the workforce, paving the way for many to follow in her footsteps. This role was also what brought Cathy, Tom and their infant daughter, Carolyn, to Westport in 1989, where she lived out the remainder of her life. 

Subsequent to her tenure at Time Warner Cable, she continued as a consultant with several telecommunications companies, including Lemur and Juniper Networks. 

Cathy was an active member of the Westport community for over three decades, initially as a mother with school organizations and at the Fairfield County Hunt Club. 

In recent decades, Cathy happily, tirelessly and energetically worked to make Westport a better place to live. 

For over 14 years, she was an elected member of the Representative Town Meeting, serving on the finance, public works and environment committees. She balanced this with volunteer leadership roles in several local organizations that work to secure a more sustainable future. She was an early activist and organizer for the Wakeman Town Farm and long-term treasurer as it developed into a viable enterprise. While she served on the boards of Wakeman Town Farm, the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park and Earthplace, her everyday boots-on-the-ground volunteering was equally appreciated. 

In her spare time, Cathy was an avid home cook, gardener, swimmer, skier, reader, tennis player, hiker and world traveler; lover of animals, all things beautiful and all things nature. In addition to their house pets, Cathy and Tom have raised chickens, and have cared for a pride of feral cats working with local trap and neuter organization, TAILS, to keep them healthy and humanely contained. 

Cathy is survived by Tom Talmadge, her husband of 40 years; her daughter, Carolyn of Boston, Mass.; sisters, Polly Cassel of Northampton, Mass. (nieces Stella and Eva), Beth Cassel of San Rafael, Calif. (nephew Rudy), and Martha Cassel of Cambridge, Mass., as well as many beloved friends.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Jan. 27, at Greenfield Hill Church, 1045 Old Academy Road, Fairfield. The service will be public and start at 1 p.m., with a reception to follow in the hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that those who are able instead make a donation to the Wakeman Town Farm, Earthplace or TAILS.