Catherine Burnikel, who died at 82 on Aug. 14 in Southampton following a long illness, had to teach herself Italian to complete a dissertation and earn a doctoral degree in an aspect of European history from Loyola University in Chicago.
Ms. Burnikel worked as an executive secretary for Lehman Brothers in New York for many years. She often visited the East End and eventually settled in Sagaponack with two of her brothers. She moved to Sag Harbor two years ago. She never married and is survived by five nieces and nephews. Her brothers died before her.
She was born on Nov. 7, 1929, in Chicago, a daughter of Charles Burnikel and the former Ellen Geary. She grew up there, but received a bachelor’s degree from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. She taught elementary school in Chicago while earning her post-graduate degree and before moving to Wall Street.
One of Ms. Burnikel’s nephews said she was a gourmet cook, who used her cooking skills as a hospice volunteer. She enjoyed growing flowers and was a member of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons.
She was an active member of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Bridgehampton, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered on Friday. Burial followed at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Smithtown.