Dr. Catherine Elise Braunstein, age 81, passed away on April 2 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center following a brain aneurysm.
Catherine was born in Avignon to the deceased Louis and Genevieve Vallet. With memories of the 1944 liberation of France from German forces, she grew up with brothers, Nicolas and Olivier, and a sister, Brigitte.
After excelling in mathematics, she earned her Ph.D. and became a professor (Marseille, Faculte des Sciences). After meeting Dr. Jerry Braunstein in Milan, Italy, Catherine moved to Tennessee. She served as a researcher in the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for over 20 years. Her scholarship spanned electrochemical methods for thermodynamic measurements to the use of scanning electron microscopy in materials research.
Catherine was an indefatigable woman with panache. She was an active member of the Jewish Congregation of Oak Ridge and held leadership positions in Hadassah at the local and regional levels. She organized aspects of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. She cared for others with zeal, baking and cooking with love and creativity. Earlier this year, she delivered hamentashen care packages to family and friends. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend.
Catherine loved music, opera, art, traveling, hiking, and gardening. Oftentimes, she combined these interests. She traveled the world to attend operas with her beloved husband of 37 years, Jerry (may his memory be for a blessing) and visited Israel many times. And while hiking in East Tennessee, she took photographs of flowers, waterfalls, and scenic vistas to share with family and friends near and far. Swimming and enjoying meals with family at La Couronne brought her much joy.
She is survived by her daughter, Sarah, and her grandchild, Tobias, in Connecticut. She is also survived by her brothers, Nicolas and Olivier Vallet.
A memorial service and burial will be held on Tuesday, April 6, at noon at Beth El cemetery in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Expressions of love in lieu of flowers can be made to the Knoxville Opera Company, UT Knoxville School of Music, or Hadassah.