Mary Catharine “Sis” Woolwine Vander Naillen passed away on February 3, 2020. She was born on December 5, 1929 to Emmons Hicks Woolwine and Catharine Altemus Woolwine in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Ward Belmont Preparatory School and Mount Vernon Junior College and attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Growing up in Nashville, Sis was athletic, participated in many sports and was captain of her rifle teams in both high school and college.
She married Ralph Edward “Van” Vander Naillen , a Naval Academy graduate and the love of her life, on June 6, 1951. Sis and Van started married life while he was in flight training in Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas. They moved to Coronado, California and later back to Annapolis, Maryland. She took great pride in telling friends that she had a child on every coast. After her husband left active Navy duty for the Naval Reserves and a career in the inland waterway business, the couple with their three children moved to Nashville where they enjoyed a country life. They eventually moved to Houston, Minneapolis and in the mid 1980s, the couple retired to Rockport, Texas. In all the places in which they lived, Sis and Van especially loved their life in Rockport. She enjoyed golf, fishing, bird watching, gardening, reading and also volunteering. She became an avid golfer, made 2 holes in one, was the ladies golf champion for several years at the Rockport Country Club, and taught her grandchildren how to swim, play golf and also to fish. Sis was a founding member of the Good Samaritans in Rockport where she was board chairman and volunteered for many years. She was active in her church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, in Rockport.
After Van’s death, Sis moved to Houston in 2017 to be near family. She enjoyed living at The Village of Tanglewood where she had good friends. She was a sustaining member of the Junior League of Houston and belonged to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Sis was a dedicated wife and was devoted to all of her family, especially fond of her twin great granddaughters and newborn great grandson. She was an amazing lady with a strong sense of family, friends and a strong faith in our Lord. She will be greatly missed.
Sis is preceded in death by her husband, Capt. Ralph E. Vander Naillen, Jr., her brother, Emmons Hicks Woolwine, Jr. , grandson, Ralph E. “Ted” Vander Naillen IV and her nephew, Emmons Hicks “Skip” Woolwine, III. She is survived by her son, Ralph E. “Randy” Van der Naillen, III and wife Kathy, daughters, Catey Carter Cumley and husband Steve, Vicky Davis and husband Mac of Nashville; grandchildren, Park Carter and wife Louise, Claire de Roode and husband David, and John Carter; great grandchildren, Mimi and Caroline Carter and Everest de Roode. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Suzie Woolwine of Nashville, her brother-in-law, Peter Van der Naillen and wife Bridget Flannigan of Oakland, California and her nieces, Chris Bettis and husband, Holt of Dallas and Trish Woolwine of Nashville, their families and Ken Carter of Houston. A special thank you goes to her wonderful caregivers: Joyce Edwards, Monique Johnson, Debra Price, Betty Herron, Erma Baker, Michelle White and Nita Trent.
In lieu of flowers, her family suggests that memorial contributions may be made to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church Outreach Ministry, 717 Sage Road, Houston, TX 77056, or PTSD Foundation of America 9724 Derrington, Houston, TX 77064 – PTSDUSA.org or to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 555 Enterprise, Rockport, TX 78382.
A memorial service for Mary Catharine will be held on Monday, February 10 at 3:00pm with a reception to follow at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road, Houston, TX 77056.