Catharine C. "Kitty" Smith, a watercolorist, art collector and avid sailor, died Friday of congestive heart failure at Duncaster Lifecare Community in Bloomfield, Conn.
The former longtime resident of Kerneway in Guilford was 97.
Catharine Carton, the daughter of a lawyer and homemaker, was born in Chicago and raised in Lake Forest, Ill.
Mrs. Smith was a 1929 graduate of the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and attended Miss Schoff's School in Paris from 1929 to 1930. She later attended Smith College in Northampton, Mass.
In 1933, she married Paul P. Swett Jr., and they moved to Baltimore in 1946 when he was named president of the Maryland Life Insurance Co.
"Even though she came from great wealth, she was very understated, and led a very Baltimore life," said Aurelia Garland Bolton, of Brooklandville.
"My family was the first family they got to know after they moved to Baltimore. She was a very elegant, lovely human being," Mrs. Bolton said.
"Because she was so charming, she had tons of friends. She was a good mixer, enjoyed people's company, and always wanted to know everything that was going on in the city," she said.
Mrs. Smith, who was known for her seascapes and landscapes, studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She also was an avid collector of late 19th- and early 20th-century American landscapes.
"She was a very accomplished watercolorist who really painted for her own pleasure," Mrs. Bolton recalled. "We have one of her works that she painted in the Adirondacks."
Mrs. Smith and her first husband were friends of the late noted Baltimore painter Trafford Klots and his wife, the former Isabel Hulings, and often visited them at Chateau de Rochefort-en-Terre, their medieval chateau in Brittany.
"He had painted a portrait of my father, and afterward Trafford and Isabel became good friends," said a son, Steven C. Swett of Norwich, Vt., a travel writer.
"Catharine was interested in people and also the arts, including music and the symphony," said Mrs. Klots. "She was very agreeable, charming and always fun to be with."
Mrs. Smith was a longtime member of the women's committee of the Baltimore Museum of Art and had served on the board of Union Memorial Hospital.
"The art scene in Baltimore was always a very important part of her life," Mr. Swett said.
Since 1925, Mrs. Smith spent her summers at "Full House," a family home in Jamestown, R.I., on Narragansett Bay, where she indulged her passion for sailing.
"While not a competitive athlete, she skied and rode horseback, played golf and tennis into her 80s and went sailing two months before she died," her son said. "She also enjoyed teaching her children and grandchildren how to sail."
After her husband's death in 1980, she married Olcott D. Smith, who was then chairman of the Aetna Life and Casualty Co., and moved to Farmington, Conn., in 1983. He died in 2000.
Since 2008, Mrs. Smith, who had moved to the Bloomfield lifecare community, continued to lead a vigorous life.
"She was giving and gracious, and relished her friends, but most of all, she cherished her family," her son said. "A natural hostess and household manager, she presided over rooms full of relations of all ages at her annual Thanksgiving gatherings."
Mrs. Smith was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and a member of the Mount Vernon Club, Cosmopolitan Club in New York City and the Town & Country Club in Hartford, Conn.
She was also a member of the Colonial Dames and the Garden Club of America.
"She looked for the best in others and tried always to be at her best. 'You are dead an awfully long time,' she once remarked, by way of explaining her goal of avoiding stress and seeking serenity," her son said.
A memorial service will be held at noon Oct. 7 at Old St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Bloomfield.
Also surviving are another son, Thomas C. Swett of Unionville, Pa.; three stepsons, Damon B. Smith of Old Lyme, Conn., Tyler Smith of Hartford, Conn., and O. Whitman Smith of Charlotte, Vt.; a stepdaughter, Wendy M. Brainerd of Old Lyme; a brother, Dr. Robert W. Carton of Winnetka, Ill.; eight grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; 12 step-grandchildren; and 15 step-great-grandchildren.
Another son, Bradford N. Swett, died in 2005.