Kathleen Jane Olds (Whitchurch): Making Friends All Over the World
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Kathleen Jane Olds (Whitchurch) left our physical world with angels Sunday evening September 11th, 2016 at her home in Rio Dell, CA with her family by her side; she was 74 years old. She started her beautiful life February 24th 1942 in Muskogee, Oklahoma born to Clyde and Mary Jane Olds. Along with her parents and three younger siblings, Kathy and family made their way through California to the small town of Zenia where Kathy loved to share that she started her education in a one room school house. The family then settled in Eureka, CA where Kathy attended middle school and graduated from Eureka High School, Class of 1959. She loved her classmates and attended multiple yearly reunions in the past recent years, MC’ing the reunions sharing stories and laughs. Kathy never met a microphone she didn’t like!
In 1958, while at her best friend’s house for a sleep over first saw a handsome young sailor fresh off the boat, Leonard Whitchurch. The two started dating and on August 22nd ,1959 she married the love of her life. They were married at the Loleta Community Church where she wore a white slipper satin gown in a princess style made by her mother. At 18 years old she had her first child and began her 56 year career as a devoted and loving mother. Kathy led a full life active in her community and professional organizations while also being very involved in raising her three children. She supported her children as a 4-H leader, Cub Scout leader, and in the PTA. As a 4H leader she began a practice that would continue her entire life, of mentoring young women in many activities from sewing lessons to hosting bible studies. Leonard and Kathy were passionate volunteer Husky supporters from Eel River Valley Youth Football to Fortuna High. Kathy continued her love for Fortuna High Husky sports and music programs when six of her 8 grandchildren attended FUHS she was always seen at their games, recitals and performances. When her granddaughter coached for the high school she was involved in any way she could be, attending almost every home game. Her grandchildren were the Crown Jewels of her life, she was very proud of them and cherished each and every one of them.
In Kathy’s professional life she spent 24 years as a legal secretary for local law offices in Eureka and Fortuna. She made life long friends in her secretary days and loved them all immensely. In the mid 70’s she was the President of the local Legal Secretary organization a part of Legal Secretary Inc. and was instrumental in fundraisers. Kathy was also an entrepreneur and after her secretarial career owned American Maid Service a cleaning service, and ran a family country cooking buffet called Country Smorgy; with the best fried chicken around. After running her restaurant Kathy worked for the Butte County Sheriff, and ended her working career with Humboldt County as a Child Support officer.
Kathy loved to travel and meet people, in her life she made her way around the world by land, air and sea, making friends all over the world. If you sat next to her on a plane, or dined with her in the ship’s dining rooms you would soon have exchanged life stories and know everything about her children’s and grandchildren’s lives. She always enjoyed being outside in nature; be it the clear blue seas of the Caribbean, the cold beaches of Northern California, or the green waters of Ruth Lake and the Six Rivers with her family. In her final years, cruising gave her the ability to continue to see the world, enjoy the extravagant buffets and restaurants, watch the shows and be with people she loved; all in one place. After the passing of her beloved husband Leonard in 1983, Kathy married Bill Johnson in 1986 whom she RV’d with around the Western United States for 4 years and spent a happy 14 years together until his passing. Kathy found great joy in the time she lived in the mountains of Trinity County near Ruth Lake where her family spent many summers. It was close to her childhood home of Zenia and she worked hard at creating an oasis of beautiful flowers. A highlight in her travels was her trip to the Holy Land shortly after her diagnosis. She believed healing happened there in Nazareth that gave her these last four years.
Kathy shared her love of quilting and crocheting with her children and grandchildren while teaching them how to cook and craft. She sewed and stitched love into every project; love so potent the blankets she made lulls you to sleep. She treasured the relationships she made in the mountains with the women she met with weekly for “Stitch and Bitch”. Upon her return to the coast these relationships strengthened and she lived for the days her sewing gals came to visit or took her out. She also lived for the time she spent with her sister Carol, wielding their needles and hooks; working days, weeks, months and even years completing projects they designed. She looked forward to their time together and the countless quilting retreats they attended together. They created many beautiful gifts of love and creativity for their friends and family. If they weren’t quilting she was shopping Quacker Factory on QVC, “buy more, save more” was her motto.
Kathy left a legacy of love for her family. She walked in her faith with the lord daily and one of her favorite ice breakers was “where do you worship?” She was an active member of the Christian community where ever she lived, even attending services throughout her treatment when public places weren’t recommended. She was always surrounded by the love of her friends and family through her 5 year health battle, always needing to warn doctors and nurses that her children and grandchildren would be in the room to make sure they were doing everything right. She made many friends in her life here with us and her quick wit and humor is remembered by all.
She is preceded in death by Mary Jane and Clyde Olds, Leonard Whitchurch Sr., and Bill Johnson. She is survived by her three children Janine (Cindy) Lauritzen, Leonard (Lisa) Whitchurch Jr., and Jennifer Whitchurch-McCain, Step-Daughter and friend Marquita (Byram) Price, her sister Carol Brown, her brothers DuWayne (Carolyn) Olds, Rodger (Betty) Olds, her 8 grandchildren Theresa, Jacqueline, Nicole, Brett, Natalie, Sara, Dakota and Nathaniel, her one great-grandson Jaxx, many nieces and nephews, the many loving Whitchurch family in-laws, and countless friends and adopted family members.
A celebration of life service will be held Saturday October 1st, 2016 at Hydesville Community Church at 1pm. In lieu of flowers please send contributions in Kathy Olds name to the Amyloidosis Foundation at www.amyloidosis.org.