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Kathryn Louise "Kitty" Chrisman

September 19, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Kathryn Louise "Kitty" Chrisman is shown with her daughter, Arlene Drawbaugh; and granddaughters, Gina Baker and Tina Leimbach, in this picture taken on Kitty's 93rd birthday.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." Each story in this continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Kathryn Louise "Kitty" Chrisman, who died Sept. 8 at the age of 93. Her obituary appeared in the Sept. 10 edition of The Herald-Mail.

It was the final seconds of the Washington Redskins' opening game of the 2010 NFL season against the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had just thrown a touchdown pass that tied the game.

But a holding call on the Cowboys negated the six points, making the Redskins victorious in their first game of the season.

While some Washington fans were thanking the player who was guilty of the penalty, Arlene Drawbaugh was giving credit to her mother.

"She was a Redskins fan all the way," Arlene said. "When the penalty flag was thrown, I turned to my husband and said, 'That was mom. She made that happen.'"

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There were many sides to Kathryn Chrisman, Arlene said. She loved her family and her church, she loved to travel, volunteer and play bingo, and she loved sports.

She also was a strong, independent woman who lived on her own into her early 90s.

With her death on Sept. 8 at the age of 93, a void will be felt, Arlene said.

"She was a very special person," Arlene said. "She was my mother, but she also was my best friend."

Kathryn Louise "Kitty" Chrisman was born July 17, 1917, on Locust Street in Hagerstown.

She was the second oldest of four children born to William H. Sayles Sr. and Margaret Ruth Tetlow Sayles.

Kathryn was a typical child, Arlene said.

But what separated her from many children of that era was education.

"My grandparents made it very clear that all of their children had to graduate from high school," Arlene said. "Back in that day, many young people quit school to work and help their families. But my grandparents made sure their children would get their degree. That was one of the rules of growing up."

Following graduation in 1935, Arlene said her mother entered the work force and landed a job at the local sock mill.

Soon afterward, she met her future husband, Clyde Chrisman.

"They met at People's Drugstore, where Dad was a soda jerk," Arlene said.

The couple married in 1940.

While her husband was serving overseas in the military, Kathryn stayed with her parents and got a job at Fairchild.

When Clyde returned home, the couple set up housekeeping on Antietam Street and, in 1947, looked forward to the birth of their daughter.

With a new baby, the couple found larger living arrangements in a rented house on Cannon Avenue. Arlene said the landlady worked at Washington County Hospital.

"She and Mom became very good friends," Arlene said. "Later, she helped my mother get a job at the hospital, where she became medical records supervisor. She retired from that job after 30 years."

Following the death of her parents, Kathryn and her family moved into her childhood home on Locust Street.

"She was thrilled that her sister, Margaret, was living on the other side," Arlene said. "They were extremely close."

Arlene said her mother was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and went to services every Sunday until poor eyesight prevented her from getting there in her older years. She also was a member of the church's Widow's Club.

Arlene said her mother volunteered for many years for the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, working side by side with her sister, Margaret.

"They would give out juice and doughnuts to blood donors," Arlene said. "Most people thought they were twins because they both had white hair and looked so much alike."

Arlene said her mother loved bingo and for many years played every Tuesday in Halfway.

"It became a joke that you didn't make plans for anything on Tuesday because Mom was playing bingo," she said. "A major catastrophe would have to happen for that to change."

Over the years, her mother and father, who died in 1992, did a lot of traveling, Arlene said.

"They went to places like Maine and Myrtle Beach, and eventually they made their dream trip to Hawaii," she said. "They were both so excited."

Arlene said her mother kept herself busy, even in her later years.

"She lived independently up until June of this year," she said. "But she fell and had to go to Williamsport Retirement Village for a few weeks. She then lived at Twin Oaks, an assisted-living residence."

"She was active right up to the end," Arlene said. "And she still followed all of her favorite sports teams. She loved the Redskins and the Maryland Terrapins. And the Baltimore Orioles were her team."

Arlene said her mother was looking forward to the Redskins-Cowboys game on Sept. 12.

"She told me those Redskins better beat the Cowboys," Arlene said. "That's why I felt she had a hand in helping her team win that night. It was her way of telling me she was all right."

Arlene said she would want her mother remembered as a very loving, caring person who loved her family.

"She had grandchildren and great-grandchildren and she tried to keep up with all of their activities and attend their games," Arlene said. "She was very involved with family."

Arlene said she has received many notes of sympathy since her mother's death and has been moved by people's kind words.

"I was overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up for her funeral," she said. "It was evident that she touched a lot of people's lives and will truly be missed."

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