Katie Stephens-Spangler, entered heaven on January 26, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. She is survived by her loving husband, Jason; her children and lights of her life, Alice and Robbie; parents, Katherine and Terrance, sister Erin (Jack Corrigan); aunts, Maria Prioletta and Michelle Prioletta; in-laws, Mary and Randy Spangler; sister-in-law Amanda Ferraro (Bryan); numerous family and friends including Brian Thomas May (Shaka Farr), and especially her Rince na Chroi family.
Katie was inspiring, courageous, compassionate, and selfless. In everything she accomplished, she made the world a better place.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, family member, and friend, Katie was incomparable. If you were fortunate enough to be in her orbit, you always knew that you were loved and supported. She made the everyday special and the special days extraordinary.
As the founder and owner of the Rince na Chroi School of Irish Dance, she inspired her students and teachers, not only in the art of Irish dance, but in the meaning of family and community.
Katie left a legacy. Everyone who had the pleasure of having Katie in their lives was better because of it. Katie will always be in our hearts and she will continue to provide us with a direction that is genuine, kind and true.
Katie was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended St. Matthias Catholic School and Whitnall High School. She began her Irish Dance Career in 1987 with the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, where she performed and competed all over the world for 11 years. Katie moved to St. Paul in 1998 to attend the University of St. Thomas where she received her Bachelor of Arts in 2002. Katie opened the Rince na Chroi School of Irish Dance in February of 2003. Over nearly two decades, Rince na Chroi has grown into one of the largest Irish dance schools in the Upper Midwest.
Katie married the love of her life on October 24, 2009 and they began their life together in St. Paul. Katie and Jason enjoyed everything the Twin Cities had to offer, but you could most often find them in St. Paul, enjoying a pint or two and some live music. Katie was a Wisconsin gal at heart and luckily married a fellow Packers fan. You could always find Katie cheering on her team during the wins and patiently waiting for better times during the losses. Katie and Jason were also importantly raising two more Packers fans who knew more about the team than many fans.
Katie and Jason's love happily grew with the addition of Alice and Robbie. Things of course got busier but it was a great busy. In recent years, they loved to watch Alice and Robbie dance as proud members of Rince na Chroi, as well as, cheering Robbie on at track meets. Katie's proudest accomplishment was being a mom to the two brightest, sweetest and kindest kids.
In 2022, Katie was recognized as a Distinguished Irish Person of the Year by the Saint Patrick’s Association for being a pillar of the community. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Irish Music and Dance Association and Board of Directors for the Irish Fair of Minnesota.
Katie and her sister, Erin, were lifelong best friends. They didn’t let a day pass without communicating with each other. Erin followed Katie to St. Paul in 2005 because she needed to be closer to her. No matter where life took Katie and Erin they were always inseparable. Katie and Erin loved each other fiercely and enjoyed doing anything they could together- from trips to Ireland or Las Vegas, to a quiet night at a pub. Katie and Erin inspired each other and were as close as two sisters could be.
Katie believed that our hearts choose our family in addition to the ones we’re born into. Someone who embodied that the most is her friend and Godfather to her kids, Brian Thomas May. Katie and Brian met while attending the University of St. Thomas where they began a friendship that would span two decades and many of their life’s accomplishments.
Katie's parents, Terry and Kathy, loved Katie fiercely and were so proud of her every single day, Terry encouraged Katie's passion for all things Irish and for a good portion of the 1990s, drove Katie all around the midwest wherever dance required. He was known to often hold his hands under Katie's mouth while she drank or ate anything during competitions while wearing her costume. He would also sit down first any time Katie needed a rest so her costume never touched the ground. Kathy loved watching Katie perform and compete and always made sure she was stage ready but was always so nervous she could be seen toward the back of the room with a rosary or two in hand.
The only thing Katie ever did that was hard for Terry and Kathy to accept was moving to Minnesota because they didn't want her to leave. But they eventually understood that St. Paul is where Katie came into her own and thrived.
Katie will be heartily missed by not only those who knew her but also the Irish and Saint Paul communities.
Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00AM, on Saturday, February 4, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 515 S. Albert St., St. Paul. Family and friends may visit one hour prior. Reception to follow the service.
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