Katharine Rowland Cooke Blow – Military Spouse & Activist

Katharine Rowland Cooke was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 21, 1897, daughter of George Joseph Cooke and Mary Elizabeth Kerwin, the eldest of five children and was of “Celtic ancestry, Irish and Irish-American” (her words). She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Chicago where she graduated in 1914 and she was then enrolled in Eden Hall, in Torresdale, Pennsylvania.

She met her future husband, George Waller Blow of LaSalle, Illinois and Yorktown, Virginia, at a concert in Chicago and they were married December 2, 1922, shortly after Mr. Blow graduated from Harvard Business School. Because of the sudden death of Mr. Blow's father the day before, the planned wedding became a small private ceremony at home.

In 1926 the couple moved to New York City where Mr. Blow enrolled in Columbia University School of Architecture and and briefly worked for the New York architectural firms of Huzhak & Hill. He then became a partner in the firm of DeVaulchier, Blow, and Wilmet. During this period, Mrs. Blow became a staff writer for The New Yorker Magazine. She was in charge of three departments, Restaurants, New Apartments, and Travel. She wrote her restaurant column under the pen name “Soubise”1.

Between 1928 and 1939 she also found time to present four sons to the world: George, Michael, Anthony and John.

In 1942, while her husband was in the Navy, she moved with the children to the Nelson House in Yorktown, Virginia which her husband had inherited from his parents the year before.

During the war she organized the Red Cross Surgical Dressing Program in York County, and served as publicity director for the Women's division of the Virginia War Finance Committee. In 1945 she became a volunteer field representative for the American Red Cross.

The same year she received a temporary assignment to the State Department for the United Nations Conference on International organization in San Francisco. As a result of her involvement in this endeavor, President Truman appointed her to be a member of the Mint Assay Commission in Washington in 1950. With this appointment came the right to be called “The Honorable Mrs. Katharine Blow” but she never used it.


Always interested in politics, she was persuaded to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in 1949. Although defeated, she went right on to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1950.  She made no apologies for the two defeats. Looking back to the Virginia of the 50's it's hard to believe she received as many votes as she did. Aside from being publicly against segregation (and these were the days of “White only” water fountains and the Poll tax), a “Yankee”, and a Roman Catholic, she was a woman knocking on the doors of the all male, all protestant political establishment of the day (and believe it or not, Virginia didn't ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952). She broke through the barricades in 1955 when she was elected to the York County Board of Supervisors and in 1962 was appointed a Feoffee (Trustee) of the Town of York.

Her political affiliation was with the Democratic Party and she was a member of the Advisory Committee to the Virginia State Central Committee. She attended the Democratic National Convention as an alternate delegate in 1948, 1952, and 1956.

Her husband died in 1960 after many years of living with Parkinson's Disease.

As a leader in her community, she served on the Board of Directors of the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia, the Children's Home Society, Williamsburg Community Hospital and the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra; was a member of the Women's Auxiliary of Patrick Henry Hospital and a Fellow of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Mrs. Blow was a founder and former President of the Yorktown Women's Club, and she also held memberships in the Colony Club of Richmond and the Washington City Tavern Club. She was a supporter and fund raiser for the Frontier Nursing Service and the National Symphony Orchestra. She was a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation a member of the American Friends of Lafayette and the Yorktown Day Association.

Katharine Cooke Blow died at her home in the Nelson House in Yorktown, Virginia, March 25th, 1965 and was buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

NOTE: George Preston Blow, Lieuenant, United States Navy, and his wife are also buried in this site in Arlington National Cemetery.


  • USNR
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/21/1897
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/29/1960


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/21/1897
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/25/1965

ccblow-section5-wife-of-gpblow-042404-001.jpg ccblow-section5-wife-of-gpblow-042404-002.jpg gwblow-section5-foot-of-gpblow-042404.jpg

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment