Kathleen Alexis (McCorkle) (Ackerman) Van Demark, age 74, passed away quietly, in the early morning of April 20, 2023, at home in Rockport, MA, next to her husband of over 41 years, Peter Howard Van Demark. She was lovingly attended by two death doulas and wrapped in a piece of a WWII silk parachute, painted with a scene of the Great Marsh, then laid in a handmade willow casket. Kate was transported to Rochester, NY for a green burial in the Crosman family plot at Mt. Hope Cemetery on Earth Day, April 22, 2023.
Kate was born in Portland, Oregon on July 10, 1948, shortly after the death of her father, Alexander McCorkle, in an Air National Guard plane that he was piloting. Her mother remarried and the family moved for several years to Tacoma, Washington, before returning to Portland. She graduated from Cleveland High School and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she had work/study trips to Mississippi, Germany, and Wales. After jobs in Oregon, she moved to Hawai'i and studied medicine at the University of Hawaii, with a memorable rotation to the Truk Atoll in Micronesia. She completed her residency and post-doctoral studies at the University of Rochester, becoming an Internist with a specialty in geriatric medicine. She practiced in Rochester, and in Boston after moving there in 1994. Kate appreciated and cultivated a wide community of family, friends and colleagues. She retired at 55, her reason "before she became her own patient", and enjoyed choral singing, watercolor, gardening, reading, travel and other activities. When a friend she mentored passed away, she served as Acting Medical Director of Senior Whole Health of Massachusetts, then permanently retired. Kate had a passion for family history and was Councilor and past Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Her many trips with her husband included the Great Migration Study Tours, as well as Viking River and Ocean cruises.
She was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in November, 2022 and fought back from its effects to come home before Christmas, where she received in-home nursing and then hospice care until her peaceful death. Many caring health professionals helped "Dr. Kate" on her journey, and her illness was chronicled by her husband on a CaringBridge journal.
Kate was preceded in death by her father, Alexander McCorkle; mother, Winona (Hulse) Ackerman; stepfather, Arthur Ackerman; and brother, David Ackerman. She is survived by her husband, Peter H Van Demark; sister, Alice (Ackerman) Uddin and brother-in-law, Haseen Uddin; sister-in-law, Jey Ackerman; sister, Molly (Ackerman) Baumert and brother-in-law, Gary Baumert; brother-in-law, Scott VanDemark; and sister-in-law, Debra (Julian) VanDemark; and many nieces, nephews, other family, and friends.
Kate's Memorial Service will be held at 11am, on Saturday, Aug 12, 2023, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, in Rockport, MA, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations. Kate was a passionate advocate for the elderly and caregivers. She was an officer of the Board of Directors for SeniorCare Inc., which supports independence for elders throughout the North Shore. Donations may be made in her name, Dr. Kathleen Van Demark, to SeniorCare Inc., 49 Blackburn Center, Gloucester, MA 01930. Kate was also an avid watercolorist and choral singer, among other artistic interests, and supported the Artists for the Great Marsh initiatives. Donations can be made to the Dr. Kathleen Van Demark Fund for Great Marsh Artists, at the Manship Artists Residency, at ManshipArtists.org/dr-kate