Renée Kathleen Zellweger was born on April 25, 1969, in Katy, Texas. Her father, Emil Erich Zellweger, is from the Swiss town of Au, St. Gallen and descends from an Appenzell noble family. He was a mechanical and electrical engineer who worked in the oil refining business. Her mother, Kjellfrid Irene (née Andreassen), is Norwegian with some Finnish roots. Kjellfrid grew up in Ekkerøy near Vadsø, as well as Kirkenes, and was a nurse and midwife who moved to the United States to work as a governess for a Norwegian family in Texas. Referring to her religious background, Zellweger has described herself as being raised in a family of "lazy Catholics and Episcopalians. "