Kathleen M. Gilpin, CAPT USNR, Ph.D.

May 11, 2024

Kathleen Marie (Friel) Gilpin, CAPT USNR, Ph.D. passed away on May 11, 2024 at Hospice of the Chesapeake, surrounded by loved ones and holding her husband’s hand. She was 41 years old. Since October 2021, she had fought Stage 4 breast cancer with inspirational bravery, positivity, and faith.

Kathleen was born in Bethlehem, PA and grew up in Furlong, PA in a loving family of four children. As a child and teenager, her hobbies included skiing, golfing, playing tennis, enjoying a softball game, writing, painting, playing music and singing, and traveling.

Kathleen was an extraordinarily accomplished person. She was self-taught in both the piano and the flute, and she ran two marathons. Following her undergraduate studies at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she rowed varsity crew and was a Navy ROTC cadet, Kathleen earned advanced degrees that included an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College and an MA in Bioethics/Medical Ethics from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She was particularly proud of her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Despite her cancer diagnosis, she began her MBA studies at University of Notre Dame which has posthumously awarded her degree. At the time of her passing, she was working as Director of Discovery and Engagement at Parallax Advanced Research.

Kathleen continued the Naval service tradition of her father and was active in the Sea Cadets as a teenager and then served for the entirety of her adult life in the United States Navy and the United States Navy Reserve, ultimately holding the rank of Captain. A qualified Surface Warfare Officer and proud Shellback, she rose rapidly through the ranks and commanded five different units in three different countries. Thanks in part to her Naval service and in part to her boundless spirit of adventure, she visited 32 countries and all 50 states. Kathleen served aboard the USS Germantown (LSD-42) and the USS San Antonio (LPD-17). She was the navigator for LPD-17’s maiden deployment and safely guided the ship on her first-ever transits of the Suez Canal, Italy, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Although Kathleen’s service often took her away from family, friends, and loved ones for extended periods of time, her devotion to duty and care for the sailors under her command gave her strength.

Of all the accomplishments in her life, Kathleen was assuredly most proud of the family that she created with Seth Gilpin, the love of her life and her devoted husband of almost 16 years. Their young children, Brigid and Myron, were Kathleen’s pride and joy, and she was motivated to courageously persist in her cancer journey by the goal of having more time with her children. Kathleen always had a smile on her face, but it never shone brighter than when she was with her children or talking about her children.

In addition to her husband and her children, Kathleen is survived by her siblings, Joseph (Beth) Friel, Christine Friel (fiancé Nicholas Roy), and Rev. David Friel; her nieces and nephews, Corinne, Abigail, Michael, Maya, Daniel, Mary, and Noah; her aunt Peggy Murphy and cousins Lynn and Kelly Ann and their families; and a veritable fleet of friends and colleagues from across every chapter of her life. She was predeceased by her beloved parents, John and Pat Friel.

Kathleen was a hero in every sense of the word who exemplified 2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” She was fiercely competitive, hilariously funny, and deeply faithful. She will be dearly missed and lovingly remembered.

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at Reed and Steinbach Funeral Home, 2335 Lower State Road, Doylestown. Funeral Mass will be held at 12:30 p.m., Friday, May 17 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 235 East State Street, Doylestown. Interment to follow in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Those attending her funeral are encouraged to wear green in acknowledgment of Kathleen’s lifelong favorite color.

In lieu of flowers or physical gifts, the family requests that memorial contributions in Kathleen’s name be made to: United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the U.S. Navy’s youth development program, at https://www.seacadets.org/donate-now/ or: US Naval Sea Cadet Corps, ATTN: Development Director, 2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22201.

Alternatively, individuals may consider making a gift to the 529 educational savings plans for Brigid and Myron by going to https://www.ugift529.com and entering codes R6K-C6V for Brigid and 82L-Q2Z for Mryon.

The family wishes to thank Kathleen’s entire medical team at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center and Hospice of the Chesapeake for their skillful and compassionate care.


6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 16
Reed and Steinbach Funeral Home
2335 Lower State Road, Doylestown


12:30 p.m., Friday, May 17
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church
235 East State Street, Doylestown


Holy Sepulchre Cemetery