NORMAN — Catherine Anna Spink Alexander, nee Svobada, 89, was called by the angels in response to her prayers early Tuesday, March 19, 2013, following a long illness. She passed peacefully in the presence of family.
Catherine was a devout Catholic all her life. A memorial service will be 2 p.m. today at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 421 E. Acres St. in Norman. There will be no graveside services.
Catherine was a strong, intelligent and determined woman, an inspiration to her family and others. She was a doctor when most doctors were men and women in the medical field were nurses. Catherine was born in a farmhouse in Kingfisher to Karl Svobada and Hanna Newer Svobada. She was orphaned at age 10 and she and her brother, Charlie, went to live at the Catholic orphanage in Guthrie, where there were no chairs at the tables and no pillows on the beds. While attending the St. Joseph Convent and Academy, she met her second family, the Maginnises. She graduated the academy at 16 and went to Oklahoma A&M University, where she studied pre-med, paying her way by doing various odd jobs such as tutoring, sewing and barbering. After graduating from Oklahoma A&M, she worked as a chemist for the war effort.
She went on to earn a degree in medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. She contracted tuberculosis while she was an intern at the Oklahoma Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Clinton, where she also met the love of her life, John Russell Spink. She married John in 1957 and moved to Norman. She obtained work at Griffin Memorial Hospital, where she worked on the tuberculosis ward. After the ward was closed, she practiced general medicine for the entire hospital, learning psychiatric medicine in the process. Dr. Alexander strove to treat all her patients as normal people. She had the patience of Job, even with those with the gravest psychiatric defects. She often said that we were all just a fall down the stairs away from being psychiatric patients ourselves.