Obituary for Catherine Opava | Cleveland Funeral Home
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Catherine Opava

June 5, 1943 ~ October 16, 2020 (age 77)

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Obituary – Catherine Mary Elizabeth Opava


CLEVELAND, G.A. – Catherine “Cathie” Mary Elizabeth Opava, 77, of 638 Hidden Valley Road, died peacefully in her sleep on Friday morning, October 16, at her residence.  A Memorial Service will be planned for later this year, hosted virtually to enable widest participation.


Cathie was born June 5, 1943 in Ealing, England, to the lateMargaret Maxwell Smith Goodyer and Sidney Walter Smith.  She grew up in Ealing, a suburb of London, splitting time over the summers at Rottingdean on the southeastern English coast. The middle of three sisters in post-World War Two London, she grew up surrounded by the love of her sisters and her motherwho was also her best friend.  It was the example Margaret Goodyer set in her fierce determination to raise three girls by herself in such difficult circumstances on which Cathie drew for her own considerable inner strength.  


Catherine Mary Smith married the late Christopher Priechenfried in September 1967.  They had three children together – Claire Margaret Tulevech, Caren Anne Guthrie, and Carl Christopher Priechenfried.  Their marriage brought them across from England to the United States “temporarily,” where they established themselves anew and remained for the rest of their lives.   


After raising her children through their early years, Cathie rejoined the workforce as the Accountant at the British Consulate in Atlanta, where she worked for over twenty years.


Cathie was blessed to find love later in life with Michael Dennis Opava, her husband of almost thirty-one years.  They married on December 2nd, 1989, and began a lifetime of adventure.  For most of their marriage, in addition to their primary household, they maintained a mountain “get-away” in Cleveland, Georgia, including the campsite they owned at Paradise Valley Campground for the last twenty-two years.  Referred to as their “adult playground” by her kids, Cathie and Mike enjoyed deep and enduring friendships with their fellow campgrounders, sharing stories of each others’ lives, families, and adventures over meals, drinks, and a myriad of other social engagements and events.  Funny how the campground’s cell phone receptionseemed to curiously degrade every afternoon around 4:00 p.m.!


Cathie was a very strong woman; her strength was a defining trait.  It manifested early – including the week she spent sunbathing instead of attending school due to a suspension that she somehow failed to disclose to her mother, and which remained under the table until the end of term when the headmaster commented to her mother that, “Other than the week of her suspension, Cathie has had a good year here!”  This strength was shown in her moving across the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life in America and raise three children.  Her strength manifested in the eternal optimism with which she faced both life’s challenges and life’s successes.  With her giving spirit, she loaned this strength to her many friends with whom she enjoyed life, while simultaneously drawing on their strength when needed.  And as she aged and body parts began to wear, she showed this strength in the constant roles she played in her children and grandchildren’s lives and the many close relationships she maintained across the States and around the world.  Cathie loved a social engagement, and whether she knew you for five minutes or fifty years, she wanted to know all about you, how you were doing, and what you were up to.  Most importantly, she showed this strength through the deep love and affection she felt for her husband Mike as they shared all aspects of their later years in life. 


Catherine Opava was preceded in death by her parents, Margaret and Sydney.  She is survived by her husband of nearly 31 years, First Sergeant Michael Dennis Opava, USMC (retired); sisters Pam Tuffin and Ann Japes; daughter Claire Margaret Tulevech,daughter Caren Anne Guthrie and husband Teddy; son Colonel Carl Christopher Priechenfried, USMC, and wife Amy; and eight grandchildren, Charlie, Max, and Jack Tulevech; Carlie and Grayson Guthrie; and Nathan, Caitlin, and Owen Priechenfried.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, 13770 Noel Road (Suite 80889), Dallas, TX 75380 (

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