Distinguished Alumni 2008
Mary Katherine Vass
Mary Katherine (Martin) Vass graduated from Winthrop College with a B.S. in physical education in 1958. While at Winthrop she was a member of the Winthrop College choir, president of the Sophomore class, treasurer of the WRA and a Junior Marshal. In her senior year, she was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Mrs. Vass began her career as a physical therapist in 1961 following her graduation from Duke University School of Medicine with a certificate in Physical Therapy. As a hospital physical therapist, her experience spanned forty years, with 27 years at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte. At Presbyterian, she managed the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation department. In May of 1990, Mary Katherine planned the space, selected equipment, and coordinated all systems for the opening of the outpatient Physical Therapy Department at Presbyterian Medical Tower. In 1996, she received certification in the Leduc Method of treating lymphedema and an outpatient lymphedema clinic was opened as part of the Presbyterian’s Cancer Center. She retired from Presbyterian in 2000.
She is a lifetime member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association. She has served in several leadership roles for the NC Physical Therapy Association and in 1974 she was appointed to the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. In 1996, the North Carolina Physical Therapy Association presented her with the Olive V. Wortman Service Award and acknowledge her many years of service to the profession by stating “Mary Katherine exemplifies the best that physical therapy has to offer. Through commitment and service to the NCPAR she has enthusiastically sought better ways to enhance the ethics of our profession... She challenges others to do their best—always pushing them to champion the cause of those in need of our professional services.”
Mary Katherine was born into a Winthrop family in Columbia, S.C. Her mother, Laura Rhodes (class ‘20), was active in the Columbia Chapter of Winthrop Daughters. Two of her three sisters graduated from Winthrop College—Laura Martin Jones (class of ‘44) and Anne Martin Dempsey (class of ‘50). Another sister, Ludie Ervin, graduated from the University of South Carolina.