Catherine Ivey Yaghsizian was born in California, to parents Dave and Iola Brubeck, on November 5, 1953. She enjoyed a unique childhood, traveling the world frequently with her parents and five brothers when Dave was on tour. The Brubeck family relocated to Wilton, Connecticut when Catherine was seven. Although she tried her hand at flute and piano to keep up with her musical family, she ultimately preferred dance. That twirling ballerina with long braids inspired Dave to write Kathy’s Waltz (she may have never fully recovered from the record company misspelling her name).
Catherine eventually pursued a bachelor’s degree in theology, an interest she shared with her father. She was a free spirit as a young adult, residing in various places around the country while working in a Christian-based ministry. It was in California that Catherine met her husband, Arne, who was involved in the same ministry. After a brief engagement, they married in Monterey in October 1982. They then moved to Wallingford, Connecticut to raise their family near Catherine’s parents. Catherine devoted her energy to raising their children: Elana, Daniel, and Mariel. The family home was full of life and love, where Catherine and Arne hosted a diverse array of visitors from around the world. Between their open-door policy with friends, prayer meetings, celebratory gatherings, and pet adoptions, there was never a dull moment in the big yellow house on East Main Street.
Catherine and Arne co-founded an original Middletown-based ministry along with friends in 1995, after which Catherine supported Arne’s missionary work in Haiti. She and Elana traveled to Haiti in 2001 to help build a new school. Catherine and Arne realized they had an opportunity to use her musical connections to expand their fundraising efforts and founded the nonprofit Jazz’d 4 Life in 2007. With the tireless support of close friends, this organization allowed thousands of people to enjoy live jazz performances while supporting a good cause. Proceeds of Jazz’d 4 Life concerts supported charities such as Americares (USA) and Bethesda Evangelical Ministries (Haiti).
Catherine’s beloved husband, Arne, passed away unexpectedly in 2012 after nearly thirty years of a truly loving partnership. Catherine’s attention shifted from Jazz’d 4 Life to her independent business, Time Out Massage (a nod to her father). In keeping with her passion for charity, she partnered with Bethesda Evangelical Ministries in 2021 to raise funds in honor of the upcoming ten-year anniversary of Arne’s passing. A record $75,000 was raised in a few short weeks—mostly by word of mouth—that was used to supply electricity to a new hospital in Les Cays, Haiti.
Catherine was given the diagnosis of Stage IV sarcoma in 2017 after experiencing years of remission. She retired from her massage therapy business and turned her attention to her love of writing. In collaboration with her oldest grandchild, Nya, she authored HATS, a children’s book extolling a lighthearted approach to cancer and hair loss. Catherine completed a young adult novel and continually explored her affinity for poetry. In her retirement she also enjoyed traveling, spending time with her family, her pets, and even joined an exciting gospel choir. In 2021 Catherine sold her home of thirty years and moved to New Hartford, Connecticut, to reside with Elana’s family inorder to be closer to her grandchildren, Nya and Jovian.
Catherine surprised medical professionals by living courageously with cancer for years beyond their predictions. Those who knew Catherine were awed by her endurance and faith, especially in the face of great adversity. It was her personal relationship with God and her connection to something greater than herself that carried her through every season of her life. She maintained a sense of grace and dignity as well as her sassy sense of humor even through her final days. Catherine is survived by her three children, two grandchildren and four of her brothers: Darius, Chris, Dan, and Matt. She joins her husband, parents and brother Michael for eternal celebration.
We’ll let you know the details for Catherine’s memorial service as soon as they are available