Katherine "Kitty" Field, World Traveler, Dies of Cancer

On one of her many trips abroad, Katherine “Kitty” Field strode into a huge cuckoo clock shop with long-time friend JoAnn Petzold and instantly became giddy.

“She wanted almost every one on this gigantic wall,” said Mrs. Petzold, 63. “She couldn’t decide. Finally, I said, ‘Look at this one,’ and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I’ve got to have it.’ They told us there was only one in the entire place, and we looked at each other like ‘who’s going to get it’?”

Mrs. Field was going to let her friend have it, but then another was found, so they both went home from Switzerland with identical clocks.

Mrs. Field’s clock is still running, but her time ran out in the wee hours of last Friday after a long, courageous struggle with cancer that was diagnosed just after Thanksgiving in 2007.

She was 64, and surrounded until the very end by her five children.

“She fought very hard,” said daughter Marie Field Spies, 36, who lived near her mom in Tucker.

Mrs. Field thought she had it licked, but her condition worsened, and late last week a priest administered the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church.

“We all had a chance to kiss her, hold her,” Mrs. Spies said. “One of my sisters gave her a red rosary and we prayed the ‘Hail Mary’ until she passed.”

Funeral services will be held at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Atlanta at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

She’ll be remembered for her tireless energy and unquenchable zeal for fun and adventure as well as her willingness to do anything for family and friends.

Mrs. Petzold, of Danbury, Conn., met “Kitty” 40 years ago on a vacation tour to Europe.

“We went to Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France and England,” Mrs. Petzold said. “We instantly became friends.”

And they went on other trips in the U.S. and abroad over the years.

A few years ago, Mrs. Field went on a Mediterranean cruise with her daughter Michelle Field, 41, who later became her devoted caregiver.

“She walked to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. She was always up for excitement and celebrations and parades,” Mrs. Spies said. “Disney, the Rose Bowl parade, she wanted to be there.”

She loved making small gifts called “FieldMice” on a sewing machine, then sold the stuffed critters at craft shows. Sixteen years ago, while on a trip with daughter Michelle to New England, she made a side excursion to Kennebunkport in Maine and fell in love with the tiny village. The two decided to open a business, Cottage Collectibles, which made just enough money in the four months it was open every year for her to be able to return the next.

Mrs. Field, who graduated from St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta in 1963, chose the “school of adventure” rather than college. Her travels included Egypt, where she rode on a camel to the pyramids, Israel, where she waded in the Dead Sea, and Italy, riding in gondolas in Venice.

Since her diagnosis, she went to Disney World four times, Las Vegas, out of town weddings, high school reunions, and never, “let cancer dictate her actions,” Ms Field said of her mother.

Son Michael, 39, opened a restaurant called Wildflour in Alpharetta in 2007, and she frequently met friends and family there.

Her philosophy, her daughters say, was that “friendships are what really matter.”

One of those friends, Jackie Dove, 65, of Lawrenceville, agrees. They met “when we were secretaries” after high school.

“In the ‘60s we went to see Elvis,” Mrs. Dove said. “She just loved him, and so did I. We had one pair of binoculars we had to pass back and forth. We talked on the phone almost every day of our lives.”

Other survivors include daughter Kathy Hoffman of Tucker, son Chris Field of Minneapolis, seven grandchildren and the spouses of her children.