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Catherine is the wife of Emmett Ryan, a World War II veteran and detective in the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Division. The pair would later have have two children, Jack Ryan and a daughter.
Catherine and her husband wife later died in 1974 in a plane crash at Chicago Midway International Airport. This occurred 19 months after Jack had been involved in a helicopter crash during a NATO exercise over Crete which badly injured his back and ended his military career. With his parents deaths, Jack developed a fear of flying that persisted for years.