Article submitted by Michael Tardiff


KatieCastelliCelebrationOfLife2I first met Katie and her husband, Chris Castelli, in the early 2000’s, and immediately I was impressed at how energetic they were and how they had the same passion for engineering geology as I do. All three of us attended colleges in California, and majored in geology. They attended UC Santa Cruz and I went elsewhere. We went to the same six-week long summer field camp, except they attended in 1997, the year after me. Katie and I crossed paths again when she worked at the Transportation Building downtown and I was working with a consulting firm for the cracked bridges research program. Our paths would cross again when Katie was on the interview panel for the position I interviewed for and eventually was offered in 2007.


KatieCastelliCelebrationOfLife3We spent the next 10+ years working together at the Region 2 Technical Center as geologists. She was our lead worker and, as colleagues, I learned an immense amount of how the Highway Department works and is organized from her. Over the years, we spent many cold rainy days in the field (as geologists often do). Katie preferred hot chocolate over my coffee on these cold stormy outings. Energy was one of her attributes and she had plenty of it while hiking around on soggy hillsides wondering how we could fix a landslide that was impacting another one of ODOT’s highways on the west side of the Cascades.

KatieCastelliCelebrationOfLife4KatieCastelliCelebrationOfLife8She was well organized and able to lead her group in a way that earned her the title “Den Mother”. I often looked to her for advice and as our lead worker she would review the work our crew prepared. She was capable of multitasking to the nth degree and could operate at a level that was super-human.
Unfortunately, in January 2018, she approached her Region 2 Geo group with her diagnosis of cancer, specifically internal melanoma. She spent the next several months battling the illness. We kept in contact and were able to meet up for lunch several times during this period. We assured her we were capable of making mistakes and goofing up without her around, however, we missed her smiles and laughter and occasional muttering at the copy machine or at MicroStation.

I have thought about Katie every day since she passed away on June 23, 2018. Since then I thought about how unfair her situation was given her apparent healthy lifestyle that involved a career that would get you away from the desk and her healthy running habits. After the notice of her passing, I realized how many people she had a positive impact on.

She is missed tremendously.