Remembering Catherine “Kitty” Borchert, double alumna, daughter of former CIT president

Photo of Catherine "Kitty" Borchert

Catherine “Kitty” Borchert was 9 when the Case Institute of Technology (CIT) persuaded her father to leave a New York photographic company to lead the Cleveland science and engineering school. 

Her connection to the campus would continue for most of the next seven decades, as she earned two graduate degrees, her husband Frank became a longtime vice president, and her daughter Anne joined the university’s development office, where she still works today.

Kitty Borchert died late last month. She was 84.

“She was a leader at every stage of her life—family, neighborhood, community, church, ministry, and beyond,” said Richard Baznik, vice president emeritus for public affairs at Case Western Reserve. “Her wisdom and caring were remarkable.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1936, Borchert spent the first decade of her life calling different cities home. Her father, Thomas Keith Glennan, took a position overseeing a sonar lab for the U.S. Navy in Connecticut, before the family relocated to Binghamton and then to Northeast Ohio. Glennan served as CIT’s president for two decades, significantly increasing the school’s research funding and raising its national profile. 

Kitty graduated from Cleveland Heights High School as the class valedictorian, then earned a degree in history from Swarthmore College. A year later she married classmate and fellow Clevelander, Frank Roy Borchert Sr., and in 1959 received a graduate degree in library science from Western Reserve University.

After short stints in Chicago and Hartford, the Borcherts returned home to Cleveland to raise their three children and immerse themselves into the community through local PTAs, school music organizations, as church music camp counselors, and as voices in the Fairmount Presbyterian Church Choir. It was through the church that Kitty Borchert found her calling. 

A member of Fairmount Presbyterian for more than six decades, she served the church as an elder, clerk of session and a member of numerous committees. She also served in a variety of roles within the Presbytery for the Western Reserve, where she advocated for forward-looking policies including the ordination of openly gay ministers.

Borchert earned a Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1991. In 2009, she earned her PhD in history from Case Western Reserve, receiving her degree with grandchildren ranging in ages 2 months to 14 years in attendance.

“My wife and I were friends with Kitty and her family for more than 50 years,” said Baznik. “She was a regular presence on the campus. We’ll miss her.”

Catherine “Kitty” Borchert was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Jr.; her parents, T. Keith and Ruth Glennan; her brother and sister-in-law, Tom and Martha Glennan; and her brother-in-law, Fred Watts. She is survived by her sisters, Polly Watts and Sally Oldham; her brother-in-law, Ted Oldham; her children, Frank III and daughter-in-law Momoko Kishimoto, Anne and son-in-law Jeff Isaacs, and Tom and daughter-in-law Rhonda Williams; nine grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and their children. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.