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Remembering Sally Katary: Egyptologist, professor, dedicated mom

LU prof passed away suddenly at her home Saturday
Sally Katary, seen here with daughter Shannon, passed away Saturday. Supplied photo.

Dr. Sally  L.D. Katary, an internationally renowned scholar of Egyptology, passed away unexpectedly on 2016 August 06, Saturday, at her home in Sudbury, Ontario. She led a full life leaving behind a legacy of achievements in all three aspects of an examined life, namely, professional, personal, and public service.

Dr. Sally L.D. Katary was an Egyptologist who specialized in the social and economic history of Egypt with an emphasis on the New Kingdom through the Late Period. Her interests extend into the Hellenistic period as well in her capacity as a Professor of Classical Studies at Thorneloe University on the Laurentian University campus, where she taught for 30 years, introducing courses in Egyptology in the Ancient Studies program. 

She was best known for her work on the Wilbour Papyrus and related economic documents, including Land Tenure in the Ramesside Period, as well as many chapters in books, journal articles, and reference work contributions. Dr. Katary lectured widely in Western Europe and North America.

She conducted archaeological excavation work in Egypt at the temple of Osiris Heka Djet at Karnak with Donald B. Redford and participated in the National Geographic special on Ancient Tomb Robbers. Her expertise on the Ramesside economy, tomb robbery, and daily life at Deir el-Medina was very well received by viewers of the documentary. At the time of her passing, she was working on a book of collected essays on Gold in Ancient Egypt in pursuance of her interest in gold in the economy and society, as well as tomb robbery. 

Her research excellence was matched by her teaching excellence as attested to by numerous students in Classical Studies. She took the time, talent, and toil to give students an opportunity to learn not only by dynamic lectures, but also by following up with students who needed additional support and helping many fulfill their dreams. 

She received her B.A. degree summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Egyptology from the University of Toronto.

Some of her public service work included: Dr. Katary was a founding member of the Canadian Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, and served on their Board of Trustees for many years and as the Associate Editor of the Journal of the SSEA. She has presented at their Annual Symposium on numerous occasions, most recently in 2012.  She was an Honorary Trustee of the Society and head of the Book Review Committee.

As an excellent violist she took part in several community concerts, orchestras and quartets. She belonged to a group of musicians that served the needs of people who were unable to attend performances by professional orchestras. She derived a great deal of satisfaction from taking classical music to the people in their own environment, a gesture that was most appreciated by people who listened to those performances. She had been playing since childhood and when she played her musical spirit filled the room. She was an expert when it came to classical music and interpreting composers. She was always the teacher. 

Her love of books led her inescapably to the tireless work of Friends of Library, part of the Sudbury Public Library. She aided in collecting, sorting and organizing book sales. Raising funds to the library in this fashion enabled the public library to undertake acquisitions that would not have been possible otherwise. She delivered books to the elderly and gave them the opportunity to keep reading and share their own personal stories with each visit. 

As a child of the Sixties she exemplified, to the extent feasible, the idea that a woman can have it all. Her domestic life was as thoroughly organized as her professional work. Her husband and daughter wondered where she got the energy to do the endless chores of a middle income family. 

She leaves behind her husband Narasim and daughter Shannon bereft of her gentle guidance. She was a dedicated mother who gave her daughter the knowledge and skills to succeed and be happy in this world. 

Sudbury lost a great scholar/teacher, a public servant, and a family doyenne. She will be missed by all who knew her.