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Catherine "Katy" Frkovich Barila

November 25, 1925 March 28, 2019
Catherine "Katy" Frkovich Barila
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Obituary for Catherine "Katy" Frkovich Barila

Catherine Frkovich Barila
November 25, 1925- March 28, 2019

Catherine “Katy” Barila, 93, died March 28, 2019 on a beautiful spring day with her daughter, granddaughter and care provider with her during her last day.
Katy was born November 25, 1925, in Gallup NM. She was always proud of her home town on the iconic Route 66, the National Highway. This attraction perhaps foreshadowed her life of travel and adventure as an adult. She graduated from Cathedral High School, and was the first in her family to attend college at Loretto Heights (Denver) on a scholarship, then graduating from Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM). She served as President of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, editor of the annual year book, the Newman Club and was an active and engaged student, popular with teachers and students alike. Katy married Timothy George Barila on August 10, 1946 amid 200 friends and family, and then departed following the reception to Washington, District of Columbia (DC) where Tim entered George Washington University medical school. Together they created a new life in DC with Walter Reed Army Medical Center the focus of their world. Katy was employed by the Department of the Interior DC prior to starting a family, and then later with the National Institutes of Health, from which she retired in 1994.
Katy enjoyed supporting the military family she married into, including among other tours a 3-year stint (1956-1959) in Japan. Her notable resilience and strength were sorely tested during the ten-day journey to Japan aboard the Navy troopship USS William Mitchell, when she suffered severe sea sickness that none of her four children did; the stories of chaos on the Mitchell with no parental supervision available remain a vivid memory for the older siblings. Katy’s life was remarkable for her resilience, and she would be tested time and time again with tragedy and loss, only to demonstrate the depths of her faith, hope, love and trust in family and God as a devout Roman Catholic. Sadly, her fifth child, born in Japan, died as a 2-month old. Another son was born a month before returning state-side, back to Walter Reed, and two more sons followed. All siblings agree Katy likely made a mistake in naming all children with a “T”- Toni, Teri, Ted, Tina, Tom, Tim and Toby- as it resulted in major stuttering in trying to snag a name but often too late as the child was off and running feeling no responsibility for responding! Her children were her focus, along with a household of beloved pets, including snakes, an alligator and a spider monkey in addition to the more standard inventory of dogs, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds. Her love for azaleas in particular shaped her green thumb philosophy that no garden space should be lacking an azalea bush with pachysandras for ground cover. Spring was a spectacular explosion of colors as a result. She loved sunshine and being outdoors.
Katy was born to Max and Sofia Frkovich who were immigrants from Austro-Hungary/Croatia, with Max arriving in the USA on the SS La Champagne via Ellis Island on 9 August 1903 (declaring $11) and Sofia arriving on the SS St. Paul on 7 October 1906. Max and Sofia followed the Croatian immigrant culture focused on coal mining, with Roslyn WA as their first location and eventually settling in Gallup NM as proprietor of a restaurant, bar and hotel. There they raised George, Joseph, Emma, Max, Zora, Mary, Katy and David. Katy was the last remaining sibling.
Katy is survived by her 7 children, 13 grandchildren, 5 weddings of grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. Once retired she lived with Tim, Toni and most recently with Teri and granddaughter Whitney for 16 years in Walla Walla, WA. Her last several years were spent in the loving home of Nicole and Luke Stovall and their children, who cared for Katy with utmost dignity and love as Katy struggled with debilitating Alzheimer’s disease. Other care providers include Annett Bovent and Alma Vargas. Granddaughter Whitney was a champion for Katy, ferocious in her dedication and devotion to her grandmother.
A Funeral Mass is scheduled at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Monday, April 8, at 11 AM, with a reception to follow at the Blanchet Hall. All are welcome to attend. An interment is intended for Arlington National Cemetery, where Katy’s son Tommy and husband are buried.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to “Friends of Children of Walla Walla” (509-527-4745), “Community Resilience Initiative” (, or a charity of your choice. Friends and family may share memories and sign the online guestbook at

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Previous Events

Memorial Mass




11:00 AM 4/8/2019 11:00:00 AM
St. Patrick Church

425 W. Alder
Walla Walla, WA 99362

St. Patrick Church
425 W. Alder Walla Walla 99362 WA
United States

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