Obituary: Kathleen Smith Locke, 1929-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Kathleen Smith Locke, 1929-2023 

UVM alumna and chemistry teacher loved classical music and played piano to the end

Published December 7, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated December 7, 2023 at 8:02 a.m.

click to enlarge Kathleen Locke - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Kathleen Locke

Kathleen Smith Locke, 94, passed away peacefully on December 2, 2023, in Boston.

Kathleen was born on October 25, 1929, in Burlington, Vt., to Stephen and Gladys (Pariseau Denton) Smith. Always a woman ahead of her time, Kathleen graduated from Burlington High School at age 16. She went on to earn her BA in zoology from the University of Vermont. After graduation, she taught in the Chemistry Department at UVM and took graduate courses. For several years she taught high school sciences and math. She became technical librarian for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y., where she found her lifelong friends, the late Dr. Jay Moses and Irma Smith Moses, and married her husband, the late Joseph K. Locke. They had two daughters and, after a pause, a son.

At the time of her son’s birth in 1972, amniocentesis was still experimental. Kathleen, always fascinated by advances in science, volunteered to be in a group of 14 pioneers chosen to participate. Her friends were unconvinced that a medical process could predict her child’s sex, but Kathleen proved them wrong.

Kathleen went on to earn her MS in biochemistry at UMass Boston. After her divorce, she moved to Chicago and spent 14 years as a contract research manager in environmental air quality for the Gas Research Institute.

Kathleen’s greatest love was classical music, and she played her piano to the end. Her retirement years were filled with visits to the symphony, the opera and the Museum of Fine Arts. A voracious and eclectic reader, she maintained a keen interest in current events. Kathleen loved sewing, knitting and baking, traits shared with her daughter Alicia. She adored traveling, especially with her daughter Amy, who will fondly remember their jaunts. Her son, Stephen, will miss the simple pleasures of binge-watching “Breaking Bad” with her.

Kathleen wrote to her BHS classmates upon their 50th reunion:

“My life, like yours, has had its challenges and its rewards. I feel as young as ever until that moment when I look at a reflection in the store window and with sudden startling revelation realize that the familiar-looking old lady staring back is me! Then I am aware of the passing years.”

Kathleen is survived by her children, Alicia L. Lorenzo of Duxbury, Vt., Amy S. Locke and Stephen Locke, both of Boston. The family deeply thanks John Nehme for being a caring second son. Kathleen will be interred at Lakeview Cemetery in Burlington in a private ceremony.

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