Catherine A. Liptak


Catherine Ann (Shinn) Liptak, age 90, passed away with family at her side on August 7, 2021. She was born December 29th, 1930, in Hart, MI to Eleanor (Osborn) and Hyman Hubert Shinn. She graduated as Valedictorian from Hart High School in 1948 and with Honors from the University of Michigan with a BA in English and Speech and a Master’s in Library Science. Catherine taught at schools in Michigan and Minnesota until meeting her husband John, settling in a lake home that John built on Bass Lake after their marriage on July 25, 1964. She worked at the Virginia Public Library until her retirement in 1993.

She was quick to share stories from her childhood and always enjoyed large gatherings, such as 4th of July celebrations on Bass Lake and family reunions in Michigan. She spent many years researching her genealogy and made sure that family trips included stops at various churches and cemeteries in search of records. Catherine shared her love of opera with her family, playing music for her young nieces at her summer cottage and taking her children to live performances. She always enjoyed visits from her great-grandchildren and was quick to provide them with some candy or a small trinket whenever she saw them.

Catherine was very active in her church and community. At the United Church of Christ (UCC) in Biwabik, she sang in the church choir, served on the Church Council, helped make pasties, and taught Sunday School. She was active in the community, serving on the school board, volunteering with the Girl Scouts, serving in the Eastern Star, supporting the American Cancer Society, performing Adopt-a-Highway cleanup, and delivering Meals on Wheels (until age 82). This work extended to her nine winters in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband John, where they were members of the Church of the Painted Hills UCC and active in their seasonal community.

Catherine’s passion for books helped define her life. Her love of books led to her career as a Reference Librarian and Director of the Virginia Public Library. This provided her with a lifetime of entertainment and learning. Her personal library was extensive, carefully recorded alphabetically by author. As she downsized her household, she enjoyed sorting through her library and providing specially-selected books as gifts to those she thought would enjoy them.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters (Ruth, Gladys and Mary), her husband John of 41 years, and is survived by her daughter Eleanor “Elly” (Erik Boleman), son John H. (Alison Barry), grandsons Adam and Bradley, and great-grandchildren Maci, Jordan, and Bennett; along with 2 cousins and several nieces and nephews.

The family would like to thank the caring, compassionate staff at Evergreen Knoll, Sunnyside Nursing Home, and St. Croix Hospice for the excellent care they provided to Catherine. Catherine was a one-of-a-kind lady who will be missed greatly by her family.

Visitation will be Friday, October 8, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. until the 11:00 a.m. memorial service at the Biwabik UCC Church, followed by a luncheon. An inurnment service will take place in Hart, MI in the summer of 2022. See the online guestbook at

Related Topics: OBITS