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Originally published June 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 4, 2008 at 2:28 AM

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Cathy Saltwick, 35, touched thousands of lives as volunteer

Cathy Saltwick gave her time so wholeheartedly that she touched thousands of people's lives without having met them. At local organizations including...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Cathy Saltwick gave her time so wholeheartedly that she touched thousands of people's lives without having met them.

At local organizations including the Northwest Tissue Center (now Northwest Tissue Services) and Northwest Lions Eye Bank (now called Sight Life), she worked in positions from recovering corneas to working with families considering donation.

"One of the things in working with donation is that you're literally talking to families at their saddest time ... and she was able to be so compassionate," said Candy Wells, former hospital-services supervisor at Northwest Tissue Services.

Recently, Ms. Saltwick joined the Peace Corps and went to Botswana to work on AIDS prevention. She was about to extend her stay for a third year when she died in a car accident Friday (May 30) in Gaborone, the capital.

She was 35.

"Cathy was loved in her community and highly regarded among all the volunteers," said Peace Corps Botswana director Peggy McClure. "She shined throughout her service."

Catherine Elise Saltwick was born Sept. 16, 1972, in Seattle and was only 4 when she started attending Seattle Country Day School, which is for gifted students. She started tap and ballet dancing at 5 and kept dancing into adulthood, said her mother, Jeanette Saltwick, of Seattle.

"She was just a very social kid. She made friends with everybody," Jeanette Saltwick said. "She never met a person she didn't like."

Ms. Saltwick was only 15 when she graduated from Ballard High School, and she received a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from the University of Washington in 1997.

Because of her work at the eye bank, thousands of people have sight today, said Mike Meyer, Sight Life regional director.

"She was very gifted both in academics as well as being able to get along with people and deal with people," Meyer said.

Ms. Saltwick also volunteered at Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, and helped with the Stanley Stamm Summer Camp for disabled children, her mother said.

"She was never the person who gave to someone to get something back," said Wells, of Tissue Services. "She was really just so altruistic ... motivated to make a difference."

While in Africa, Ms. Saltwick worked on prevention of mother-child transmission of AIDS.

To reduce the stigma suffered by those living with HIV/AIDS, she worked with art students to create murals of positive images of people living with HIV, said the Peace Corps' McClure.

At one point, she was selected to speak at a ceremony with former Botswana President Festus Mogae. "She earned admiration and grew to be a leader," McClure said.

In addition to her mother, survivors include her father, John Saltwick, and a sister, Christine Uyyek, of Seattle.

A funeral is planned for 2 p.m. June 14 at Wiggen and Sons Funeral Home, 2003 N.W. 57th St., Seattle.

Donations may be made to Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, P.O. Box 50020/S-200, Seattle, WA 98145-5020.

Celeste Flint: 206-464-3192 or cflint@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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