Katherine Marie Elam

katherine elam

November 18, 1942 ~ February 9, 2022

Born in: Oakland, Ca
Resided in: Newark, Ca

Katherine Marie Sweeney was born on November 18, 1942 to proud parents Mary and James Sweeney.  She was their second daughter, following behind Marieanne and just a few years later along came little Eleanor.  Katherine (Kay) loved being with her sisters and was said to be a social butterfly from early on in her life. This vibrant, blue-eyed, young Irish beauty caught the attention of the notorious Joseph Elam in Sacred Heart Elementary School’s fifth grade classroom. It wasn’t until several years later that the two began their 58 year romance.  They eventually started the adventure of a lifetime, parenthood, together and brought four children into the world: Terry, Cindy, Kelly and Joey.  Joe and Kay’s life consisted of many memorable camping trips to Hogan Reservoir,  jaunts to the cabin in Cedar Ridge, and evenings spent both  coaching and cheering on their kids at sporting events  Kay was known to be the best cheerleader in the stands at those events, often bringing her blue cowbell with her to add to her “not loud enough” voice. She was also a woman who loved a great social gathering, especially if there was dancing!

Kay had many jobs, but in all of them she was selfless – constantly giving to others in all ways.  She was a compassionate and dedicated registered nurse for 51 years, working at Laurel Grove Hospital and then Kaiser Permanente. She was a loving wife and mom who took pride in cooking for her family and shuttling kids from one event to another.  She was a committed big sister to Eleanor, taking her shopping each week and playing canasta. And, she was an extremely committed grandmother. Kay cherished each minute she spent with Ryan, Sarah, Caleb, Sean, Molly and Noah. Although she had aged, her voice hadn’t, and just like with her own children, Kay attended almost every game or match, yelling encouragement at her grandkids and insults at the refs. She was a woman who made every person she met feel like they were the most important human alive. She was an incredible listener,who always kept a positive mindset.  She instilled faith and morals in her children and grandchildren, and taught us all that each day should be filled with laughter.  Kay’s spirit will forever be remembered.  She truly was a woman who made this world a much better place. 

A memorial service will be held at Berge Pappas/Chapel of the Angels Funeral Home in Fremont CA on Friday, March 11 at 3:30 pm.  A true Irish Celebration of Life will follow at Joe and Kay’s house immediately after  the service.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either Shriners Hospital for Children or Saint Jude’s Childrens’ Research Hospital.  Kay’s family requests that guests wear green in honor of Kay’s favorite color and her Irish Heritage. 


Memorial Service: March 11, 2022 3:30 pm - June 17, 2024 4:30 pm

Room: Garden Chapel

Berge Papas Smith Chapel of the Angels
40842 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538


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Memories Timeline


  1. My first contact when I moved from the in-patient hospital setting to the clinic as an NP. Kay declared, ‘You are joining a wonderful family here at Medical Station 1! She made my transition easier and helped me learn how to walk the path as an NP with humor and support.

  2. CandleI have so many wonderful memories of working for years with Kay in Kaiser SNF advice. She was a terrific nurse, mentor and friend. I miss her wise words, sense of humor and great laugh. Rest in peace sweet Kay.

  3. I’ve known the Elams all my life. My mom and Kay were in nursing school together and have always lived around the corner from my mom and dad. Kay was literally the sweetest lady and I always enjoyed spending time with her and her family. I am sending prayers and hugs to the Elam family from Wisconsin❤️

  4. My sympathy to Joe and all of Kay’s family. I have fond memories of the years spent with Kay and Joe at Sacred Heart, and with Kay at Holy Names. She was a kind, generous and funny person, with wonderful parents and dear sisters. I’m sorry we were out of touch these many years.
    I will include Kay and all the family in my next Rosary. God rest her soul, and bring Joe and all strength and comfort.

  5. I was going through Contacts on my phone + saw Kay’s name so I looked her up and saw this obit/memorial. Kay was my “roommate” at the SNF ( rehab) in Oakland in 4/2019. It was my 1st stay in any hospital + Kay was wonderful: accommodating, warm, gently humorous with a sparkle despite her serious health problems. I met her husband, adult children + others. Felt like part of the family + I cried when I left to return home. Doubt anyone will see this entry after 2+ years but in case they do, Kay made a big difference + a lasting impression on me.

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