Born to Lenard and Emily (Eby) Palmer on April 22, 1930 in Monroe, Michigan on 10th Street, Catherine was the fifth of nine children, five sisters and three brothers. She was baptized in Monroe at Saint Michael's Church on Front Street where she attended grade school through second grade. However, the economic downturn of the 1930's developed change for the family, and they eventually moved to a farm in Carleton on O’Hara Road near Saint Patrick's Church. There she continued school and the sacraments of communion and confirmation. When she was thirteen years old, she met Detroiter Rose Radajewski who was part of a family produce business expanding market share to supply Eastern Market with products.