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 Catherine Woolley

Catherine Woolley

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 23 Jul 2005 (aged 100)
Truro, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 111098923 · View Source
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Catherine Woolley, who also wrote under the name Jane Thayer (her Grandmother's name), passed away on Saturday, July 30, 2005, at her home in Truro, Massachusetts.

Miss Woolley was the author of 87 books for children and one for adults. Her best-known picture books, published under the name Jane Thayer, include "The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy," "The Popcorn Dragon," "The Part-Time Dog" and the "Gus the Ghost" books.

Her books are fondly remembered by many. She wrote about the Ginnie and Geneva book series about the adventures of two girls, along with the Libby and Cathy series. In the 1980s, Ruby-Spears Productions created four half-hour animated specials for ABC based on her book, The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy. She was the author of 87 books for children. Her first was I Like Trains, published in 1944, and her last was Writing for Children, published in 1989.

Miss Woolley was born in Chicago, Ill., on Aug. 11, 1904, to Anna Lazelle (Thayer) and Edward Mott Woolley. Her father, Edward Mott Wooley, was a newspaperman in the late 1800s. She moved to Passaic, N.J., as a young child and lived there until she settled permanently on the Cape in 1974. She attended Passaic public schools and Barnard College and graduated from UCLA, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1927.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she did editorial and public relations work in New York City. She lived in Passaic, N.J. until she was 60, then she moved to Cape Cod. Woolley often drew on her own experience and world travels in her writings. She wrote on a Remington typewriter and never used a computer.

After moving to Truro, she became involved in teaching other writers. She taught courses on writing for kids and conducted summer workshops at the Cape Cod Writers Conference and Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill. Family members described her as a strong-minded and independent lady who possessed a quirky sense of humor and keen skills of observation. Her niece, Betsy Drinkwater, said she had a very good memory for sights and smells and sounds and would use the stuff of everyday existence as fodder for her popular books.

"She was interested in everything," Drinkwater said. In Woolley's last book, "Writing for Children," she encourages authors to write from their ordinary daily experiences.

She could be irascible, willful or very kind and loving. "She was a character," her niece said. She never married or had a family of her own, but her five nieces and nephews — her sister's children — provided a sounding board for her myriad children's books. She would often read the manuscripts to them before they were published. She traveled a good deal once her career was underway and providing a steady income.

Woolley was also a lifelong Democrat. "One of her goals was to live long enough to vote in the [2004] election," Drinkwater said. She fulfilled that wish, voting by absentee ballot. Her family said she remained alert, aware and curious about current events until just recently. She asked for The New York Times every day until about a month before she died.

In Passaic, she served on the Redevelopment Agency, the Board of Education, the YWCA Board of Trustees, the Red Cross Motor Corps and as president of the League of Women Voters of Passaic. She became a member of the Author's League of America and the Kenilworth Society of Passaic. In 1987 she was elected to the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame and was honored with an achievement award from the Phantom Friends, an organization of people who collect books for girls.

Her papers and writings are in the archives of the University of Oregon.

In celebration of her 90th birthday in 1994, the Truro Library trustees announced that the soon-to-be-built Truro Public Library would have a Catherine Woolley Children's Room, and the room was dedicated five years later on Aug. 11, 1999 (her 95th birthday). She was presented with a plaque from the town of Truro on her 100th birthday, which she celebrated last summer at a party in her garden.


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  • Created by: Eric Olson
  • Added: 24 May 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111098923
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Catherine Woolley (11 Aug 1904–23 Jul 2005), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111098923, ; Maintained by Eric Olson (contributor 48129575) Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.