Catherine Ballantine grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey. From 1941 to 1945, she attended NJC/Douglass, where she lived on Gibbons Campus and then Corwin Campus. She majored in the foods and nutrition track of home economics. During World War II, she recalls taking voluntary "war courses" on campus, the influx on Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) students at Rutgers, and the wartime growth of Camp Kilmer. As a part of the war effort, she worked at Johnson & Johnson in bandage packaging, in addition to several other jobs in wartime industries. After her husband's military service, they lived in temporary housing on the Heights Campus (now Busch). During the postwar years, she worked in the Food Technology Department. She and her husband raised their family in Glen Rock, and she worked as a home economics teacher in Paterson.