Kathy Cleaver

Obituary of Kathy Cleaver



August 30, 1946 – April 24, 2021


Katherine (Kathy) Anne Cleaver passed away peacefully and in the loving company of her daughter on April 24, 2021 in Toronto after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s. She is survived by her loving daughter, Lexy Fogel (Mark) and grandchildren, Hudson and Scout of Toronto; sisters, Christine Hourigan (Patrick) of Burlington and Gena Florio (Tony) of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; brother, Ted Badger (Carolann), Burlington; nieces, Jennie Bennink (Luke), Jess Florio, Kate Bolohan (Matt); and nephew, Andrew Hourigan (Jen).  Kathy is predeceased by her parents, Edwin and Ida Badger, Burlington. 


Kathy was born on August 30, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario. Kathy lived in New Toronto until she moved with her family to Burlington in 1959. She lived in Burlington until she moved to Toronto in 1964 and lived there until her death. Kathy graduated from the University of Toronto in 1968, earning her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (1969). She joined Ryerson University in 1970 as a professor in the Home Economics Department and she later moved to the School of Fashion where she was Chair of the department from 1990-1995. As a professor at Ryerson, she taught numerous courses including textiles, history of costume, history of art and research methods, as well as wrote textile manuals for students and attended many conferences. She was a member and executive of the Ryerson Faculty Association, the Costume Society of Ontario and the Costume Society of America.


Kathy loved historic dress and was the founder of the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection, as well as having owned one of the largest private collections of historic dress in Canada with over 6000 pieces. In 2014, her collection was partially sold at auction and donated to Ryerson University, the City of Toronto Museum, the McCord Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and various other smaller museums across the country so that others could study, learn and enjoy the rich history of costume. She was constantly being asked to display pieces from the collection at Casa Loma, Belmont House and other locations and was asked to speak about textiles and the collection on TV.


She was an avid reader, often having six or seven books on the go at one time and reading everything from historical fiction to crime novels, romance novels to instruction manuals. She never left home with less than three books stuffed in her purse because you never know when you might need a good book. She loved to garden and often grew raspberry bushes, peaches, wisteria and bleeding hearts in the spring and summer. She loved animals and usually had at least two pet cats, while feeding strays in the neighbourhood. She was an extremely kind and generous person, giving much to charity and caring deeply about the well-being of animals, children, those with disabilities and the environment. She was a sweet and quirky lady to the end, always dancing, smiling and saying funny things.


She loved her daughter, grandchildren, son-in-law, sisters, brother, nieces, nephews and friends deeply. She would play or read for hours with her grandchildren, always willing to do things again to make them laugh with delight. She would sit for hours talking with her family and friends, sharing a meal with them at a nice restaurant, at her home or at theirs. She was incredibly smart, reading voraciously, and was often the “tour guide” at museums on trips with her daughter, explaining about history and art or discussing something she read in the paper. She loved to travel and did so as often as she could, visiting countries all over the world including Russia, Germany, France, numerous states in the US, Spain, Scotland, Switzerland, Morocco, all across Canada and her favourite, England, where she went many times.


She is greatly missed by her daughter, Lexy Fogel, who would spend hours with her talking about everything and anything in the world; relationships, travel, politics, food, and history; who traveled with her extensively, read with and to her, went to theatre, exhibits and restaurants with her, cared for her and held her hand until the end.


She was an amazing light in this world and will be greatly missed.


Due to COVID-19, no ceremony will be held at this time. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Toronto Public Library Foundation at: https://tplfoundation.ca/kathycleaver/.  Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.


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