Catherine H. Burnell Profile Photo
1942 Catherine 2023

Catherine H. Burnell

May 3, 1942 — May 20, 2023



Catherine Herring Burnell


To see or observe (at thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one).

And so it was… on Saturday May 20, 2023, God, in His infinite wisdom and authority, deemed it timely to call his daughter Catherine home, after a life of 81 years, toiling on this earth. Born to roger Dubois Herring and Ida Wright Herring on May 3, 1942, Catherine was raised in a supportive and nurturing home environment of love and predestined expectations in her native town of Smithfield, Va. Reared in the traditions and mores of the archetypical rural, southern and small African American neighborhoods and communities-God, family and education were the primary tenets of focus-in that order. Following in the musical traditions of her maternal family she sang alto in the choir and participated in the youth ministries and activities of her home church, Hill Street Baptist.

As she matured in knowledge, stature and wisdom, she was obedient to the mandates of the elders of the village that nurtured her. The strong foundation instilled in her provisioned Catherine with high educational aims. She graduated from Isle of Wight Training School, eventually matriculating at the Norfolk Division of Virginia state College-now University, majoring in Business Education. Her “bubbly personality’ as well as her precision high stepping, marching talents as the captain of the Drill team, radiating with disciple and talent distinguished her.  At Norfolk State she worked in the business office after finishing her baccalaureate degree in business. She taught briefly in Southampton County, VA, public school system.

She later furthered her career as a civil servant with the Department of Navy’s Norfolk Naval shipyard in Portsmouth, Va, retiring in 1998. Throughout her tenue there, she developed a close-knit circle of trusted friends. Throughout her life” Cat” remained loyal to her alma mater, enshrined at the consummate “Spartan,” supporting and rooting for her beloved “Green and Gold” teams, especially football. If you knew Catherine, you know she loved her limousines, particularly around her birthday celebrations and special occasions. You also know of her affinity for and skill in the sport of bowling. If you really know this “social butterfly” you know how she loved people, especially her family and the kids. A true friend indeed until the end, she was remarkable, genuine and so unforgettable. Behold!

“Cat” leaves several cousins including Gerald W. and Charles Roland Dixon and other family members and friends to cherish her memory.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held 11am Thursday, May 25, 2023 at Main Street Baptist Church, Smithfield, VA. Viewing will take place Wednesday, May 24, 2023 from 3-6pm at Shivers Funeral Chapel. Please Keep the Herring-Burnell family in your thoughts and prayers.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Catherine H. Burnell, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Main Street Baptist Church

517 Main St, Smithfield, VA 23430

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Thursday, May 25, 2023

12:30 - 12:45 pm (Eastern time)

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