Obituary of Dr. Catherine A. Zavala

Dr. Catherine A. Zavala died Saturday, May 26, 2018, after a long battle with breast cancer.  She passed away at home, surrounded by her family.  She was 65.

Services celebrating her life will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City.  There will be a time of visitation one hour prior to the services, as well as following the services during a reception beginning at 12:00 noon at the funeral home.  Burial will be at the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in her memory to YMCA Camp Wapsie to benefit scholarships for those wishing to attend the camp or to research for breast cancer. To share a thought, memory or condolence with her family please visit the funeral home website at

Catherine Anne Zavala was born October 31, 1952 in Brawley, CA, the daughter of Dr. Donald C. and Julia (Hart) Zavala.  She was raised in El Centro, CA until her family moved to Iowa City in 1969.  While a student at West High School in Iowa City, she met Stan R. Campbell. The two married in 1975 and had two sons, Jeff and Steve. They later divorced in 1984, but maintained a good relationship and joint custody of their sons. Catherine attended and graduated from the University of Iowa with a BSN degree in 1974.  She then went on to receive her ARNP degree from BYU in 1978, returning to Iowa City to receive her MD from the University of Iowa in 1989 and completing her residency in OB/GYN in 1993.  Dr. Zavala practiced with OB/GYN Associates of Cedar Rapids from 1993 through 2005.  She then returned to El Centro, where she continued in private practice until last year.  While living in El Centro, she met and married Thomas Norbie, and eventually the couple moved to McCormick, SC in 2017.  In accordance with her final wishes and her devotion to family, she and Tom came to the Iowa City area to be near her sons during the last days of her illness.

Cathy’s passions in life were many, and she believed in and supported her profession and patients as a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  It is estimated that she delivered over 6000 babies during her career, and it filled her with happiness to know that she had a part in bringing so much joy into the world. An avid supporter for many years of Camp Wapsie, she functioned in many capacities within that organization, including serving as a member of the Advisory Board. In El Centro, she enjoyed her involvement in the Rotary Club.  She enjoyed cooking, painting and otherwise creating as an artist, gardening and landscaping, sewing beautiful quilts for family and friends, and cherished her time with loved ones.

Her family includes her husband, LT COL US Army (Ret) Thomas G. Norbie; sons, Dr. Jeff Zavala (Lisa), and Steve Campbell (Chelsea); grandsons, Gavin and Oliver Zavala; her father, Dr. Donald C. Zavala, Sr.; sister, Rebecca A. Hale (Sam) and brother, Donald C. Zavala, Jr. (Linda); numerous nieces and nephews; and three of her dearest four-legged friends, her dogs Jack, Lucy, and Sam.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Julia Frances Hart Zavala.