Kathryn Crockett, 91, of Mitchell, SD, passed away peacefully, September 13, 2020 at her home in Mitchell. A graveside service will be 10:30 AM Friday, September 25, 2020 at Graceland Cemetery in Mitchell. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.
To meet Kathryn was typically an unforgettable experience, whether in her youth as student driven to achieve or as senior citizen weeding the petunias at the Carnegie Resource Center. She was a life-long learner always in search of knowledge from every possible source and, if you asked her a question and often times if you didn’t, she was ready to share that knowledge with you. It is undeniable that Mitchell, South Dakota has lost one of its most colorful citizens.
Kathryn Aileen (Cohrt) Crockett was born on October 13, 1928 in Methodist Hospital, Mitchell, SD daughter of Albert Claudius Cohrt and Priscilla (Egge) Cohrt. Her parents raised her in the family home at 5th and Mentzer and when she graduated from Mitchell High School in 1947 she was prepared to conquer the world.
In 1951 Kathryn graduated from Stanford University with a degree in British Empire history. Her first job was in New York City with the United Nations helping dignitaries from the world over research and write reports. It was in New York that she met her future husband, William Francis Crockett. After marriage they lived in Munich, Germany where William was stationed from 1952 to 1954. Upon their return to the United States they lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan where William finished law school. In 1956 they moved Hawaii, William’s home state. From 1956 to 1991 she lived in Maui and Honolulu where she raised two children and worked primarily in the education and health care profession and taught piano. Most notably she became project director for the J. Walter Cameron Center, a non-profit to support health, education, and human service organizations. While at the Cameron Center she honed her talent in writing grant applications and spearheaded their multimillion-dollar campaign to construct a new facility. Never wanting to be idle and always wanting to uplift the community in which she lived, Kathryn supported many organizations in Hawaii, most notably the Stanford Club of Hawaii, Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, Maui Philharmonic Society, Japanese Cultural Society, and was a founding member of the Maui Arts Council. In addition, she pursued her MBA at the University of Hawaii.
In 1991 Kathryn returned to her family home at 5th and Mentzer to care for her mother. Upon her mother’s death in 1992 Kathryn decided to remain in Mitchell. It was almost as if she stayed to continue her mother’s legacy. Kathryn told the story that several years after her mother’s death she drove the family Chevy, purchased new by her mother and father in 1951, to downtown Mitchell. While attending to her business an acquaintance of her mother approached her and said, “Good morning Mrs. Cohrt, my how you’re looking so healthy…. and young.” Indeed, there was an uncanny resemblance. Kathryn started to teach piano, joined the UCC Church, the Mitchell Garden Club, the Mitchell Area Genealogical Society, and was Chairperson for the National Guild of Piano Teachers. But by far her passion was working with the Mitchell Area Historical Society where she drafted correspondence and wrote articles for the MAHS newsletter. It was said that she was always thinking of ways to make the MAHS stronger, from making wiser investments to saving a piece of paper by writing notes on the back of envelopes retrieved from the waste basket, and her talent in writing grant proposals made her an invaluable asset to the society.
And so Kathryn’s life came full circle in her family home at 5th and Mentzer. It was about ten years ago that Kathryn started to have problems that seem to plague all that reach advanced age, from a fall where she broke a hip in her front yard to heart problems that required a hospital stay. After both the hip replacement and heart hospital she was determined to do everything necessary to get back to her home and continue a normal life and that she did…. Back to her research and writing. Through all of this her mind remained as “sharp as a tack”. Much thanks is given to her home health care professionals that helped her achieve her goals: Charmaine Harder, Annie Davis, Lorrie Williams, and Cheryl Rothfuss. And also there were the neighbors that helped day in and day out so Kathryn could remain at home: John and Dana Sieck, Jim and Wendy Klemetsrud, and Derald and Mari Pahl. Only in a place like Mitchell would this have been possible.
To say that Kathryn was unique is not a stretch. There is no doubt she was parsimonious. (If you don’t know what it mean she might have told you to look it up but more than likely she would have said “frugal” and given you a lecture on the English language.) But when she wanted what she thought was the best, she was willing to pay for it. For example the newly installed slate shingles on her home…. Most would consider that quite extravagant but in her mind they would last forever. One of Kathryn’s greatest assets was her attention to detail. No detail was too small to undergo her scrutiny. If she was asked a question an answer was given and if she didn’t have an answer she would research the subject exhaustively so she could give you one. When working with children she was always showing the way to greater things. Her advice was always to experience the world, experience a new culture, and never quit seeking knowledge and the truth. Kathryn applauded all worthwhile endeavors in this life, no job was too small not to appreciate or take part in if called for. She appreciated the beauty of this world from the protea of South Africa and Maui, Hawaii to the hollyhocks of South Dakota, although she may have held a bit of distain for dandelions.
Kathryn was preceded in death by her mother and father, her sister, Alberta Priscilla (Cohrt) Slavin, her son, Arthur, and her beloved dog, Ben. Kathryn is survived by her daughter Claire F. Crockett-Shaw and a grandson, William Shaw.
A Celebration of Kathryn’s Life will take place on Friday, September 25th. Please join the funeral procession leaving Bittner Funeral Chapel at 10am for a graveside service at Graceland Cemetery. Out of respect for Kathryn’s life-long service to the health care industry the family requests the use of face masks and social distancing at this time of pandemic stress.
In lieu of flowers, memorials for Kathryn may be directed to the Mitchell Area Historical Society or a charity of your choice.
The smith also sitteth by the anvil,
And fighteth with the heat of the furnace,
And noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears,
And his eyes look still upon the pattern
of the thing that he maketh.
He setteth his mind to finish his work,
And waiteth to polish it perfectly.