Katherine Anne Windau “Katie” Tyson

July 17, 2009 09:05 – 09:05

Katherine Anne Windau Tyson, 21, a student, rights activist, environmental activist, and young adult Unitarian Universalist leader, died on July 2 in Colorado when her car was struck head on by another car just south of the Wyoming border. Katie Tyson, as she was known to friends and family, died instantly in the crash, which is still under investigation by Colorado State Police.

Katie was born in 1988 to Karen and Herb Tyson of Alexandria, who survive her. She was a Girl Scout for 13 years and held a second-degree black belt in karate. She was a 2006 graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a National Merit Scholar, and recipient of a University Scholarship to attend Boston University. She graduated magna cum laude in May 2009 from Boston University, where she received her BS degree in mathematics and statistics in only three years. She had planned to begin graduate studies for her doctorate in biostatistics in September, also at Boston University, where she worked as a math and statistics tutor. She was also a summer research assistant at BU, working on the Framingham Heart Study. Earlier, she spent three summers working as a research assistant or consultant for Economic Systems, Inc. in Falls Church, VA.

In Boston, Katie worked for GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders), for the Human Rights Campaign, and as an advisor for the Interfaith Youth Initiative of the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. She was on the board of Boston University’s Spectrum, sang in the Symphonic Chorus, campaigned for the environmental group ForestEthics, and worked for fair wages for the Immokalee Tomato Pickers.

Katie was active in Arlington Street Church in Boston and served as one of their delegates to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly, which was held in Salt Lake City this year. She was driving back to Boston when she was killed. This was her third General Assembly. She was an enthusiastic member of ASC’s young adult group and this year was a member of the canvass committee. She participated in a test of the adult Our Whole Lives curriculum.

Katie had a wide circle of loving friends—young and old—in the Washington, DC and Boston areas. She was active in the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church (MVUC), where she served on church committees, sang in both the youth and adult choirs, and served as the youth representative on the Board of Trustees. She was a gifted pianist and singer and often provided music for worship services at MVUC. In 2006, she received the Outstanding Youth award from the Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Katie had avid interests in photography, music, baking, cooking, writing, computers, number puzzles, hiking, biking, and running, and was widely known as an unapologetic grammar purist and computer geek. She loved animals and was looking forward to getting a kitten this fall.

Katie is survived by her parents, Karen and Herb Tyson of Alexandria, her grandmother, Lois Tyson of Alexandria, and her partner, Elizabeth Weber of Boston. She is also survived by her aunts Sharon Tyson Blackwell, Janice Windau, Joyce Copeland Tyson, Karen G. Windau, and Jean W. Windau, and by her great aunts Joyce Askew, Dorothy Light, Ellen Light, Vista Tyson, Carol A. Windau, JoAnn Windau and Dolores Windau Collingwood. She is survived by her uncles Michael Windau, Gregory Windau, and Thomas Tyson, and her great uncles John Windau, Tom Windau, Paul Light, and David Light. She is survived by her cousins Christine Blackwell, Jennifer Blackwell, David Tyson, Michael Tyson, Thomas Tyson, Jr., Jennifer Windau, Nicholas Windau, Grace Windau, Corinna Blackwell Barr, and Cathryna Blackwell Brooke. Katie was preceded in death by her grandmother Lola Light Windau and by her grandfathers Robert G. Windau and Herbert L. Tyson.

Her Virginia memorial service is being held on Saturday, July 18, 2009, at 11 AM at the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church. A memorial service will also be held in Boston, in the fall. A memorial fund, the Katie Tyson Fund, has been established to honor Katie and to continue her UU ministry. The fund will help provide leadership for Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults (YAYA).

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