Kathleen Galvin, Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, passed away peacefully at home on the evening of Sept. 12 at the age of 78.
Kathy was born to parents James and Helen Galvin on Feb. 9, 1943, in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, N.Y.
Growing up, Kathy and her parents spent many summers in the Catskills at Sunny Hill Resort. As a teen, she worked there during the summer, continuing through college. After the death of her parents, Kathy was informally adopted by Arnold and Mae Nicholsen, and their children Gary, Wayne, and Gail. The tradition of summer visits to Sunny Hill continued for Kathy, her children, and grandchildren, for the decades that followed.
A strong student, Kathy attended Fordham University. There she was pushed by her professors in the Department of Speech to apply to several top graduate schools and was accepted to Northwestern University.
Thus began Kathy’s 50-plus year relationship with the University. She entered as a grad student earning her master’s degree and went on to complete her Doctorate in Communication Education. Kathy became a member of the faculty in 1968 and later served integral roles as a department chair and the Associate Dean of the School of Speech. Kathy retired in 2019.
Kathy’s research focused on teaching the art of communication. With a number of co-authors, she wrote “Family Communication: Cohesion and Change,” published in 1982. The book has since published 10 editions. Kathy also co-authored multiple editions of “Person to Person: An Introduction to Speech Communications” along with several other textbooks that have become foundational works in the field. She was one of the founders of the Family Communication Division of the National Communication Association and was awarded NCA’s Becker Award for Distinguished Service.
As well as learning, Kathy loved teaching and sharing her knowledge. She touched many lives, inside and outside the classroom. She was a compassionate listener, seeing students, colleagues, and friends through personal difficulties. “Life is complicated” she often said, as she would help them unwind the complexities and find a simple path forward.
While in Evanston, she met her husband Charles Wilkinson in graduate school. In 1970 they reconnected and married in 1973. They had three children, Matthew (wife, Amanda), Katie, and Kara (husband, Bill). Kathy is also survived by her four grandchildren, Ryan, Amina, Cooper and Georgia.
When she wasn’t reading, she loved being in nature – the changing of the leaves, gardening, scenic drives – and connecting with her beloved students, friends, family and colleagues.
A memorial is planned, to be held at Sheil Catholic Center, details to follow.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to remember her can make a donation to Northwestern University. Use this online link, giving.northwestern.edu/NHSICherub, or send a check to Northwestern University, Gift and Record Services, 1201 Davis St., Evanston, IL 60208. The memo should read “For NHSI Cherubs, in memory of Dr. Kathleen Galvin.”