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Kathryn Elizabeth (Stouffer) Heath

December 22, 2010
  • Kathryn Elizabeth (Stouffer) Heath
Kathryn Elizabeth (Stouffer) Heath

Jan. 21, 1920–Dec. 14, 2010

Kathryn Elizabeth (Stouffer) Heath of Washington, D.C., died on Dec. 14, 2010 at the age of 90. She is survived by a brother, two children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Kay was born on Jan. 21, 1920, in Hagerstown, Md., to Earl D. and Ruth G. (Toms) Stouffer. Her parents lived on McDowell Avenue for some 80 years and were lifelong members of Grace United Methodist Church. Earl was head of business operations for the Western Maryland Railroad.

Kay's formative years were during the Great Depression. She had an incredibly inquisitive mind and adventuresome spirit. She graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1937 and from Washington County Hospital School for Nurses in 1940.

On the eve of World War II, Kay was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. Following initial training, she was sent to Panama to serve at the Army Hospital in the Canal Zone. It was there that she met Lt. Calvin Heath of North Woodstock, N.H., and they ultimately married in a full military wedding. Regulations at the time required Kay to resign her commission.

After Panama, Cal was sent to combat in Germany with the 26th Division to help liberate Europe. Their first child Kay was born while Cal was overseas.

At the end of the war, Kay joined Cal in Austria, where they lived for two years. By then, they had decided the Army would be their career. The next 20 years included another child, Ralph, 10 moves across the country and many amazing experiences.

Following the Army career, Kay and Cal had two more "careers," first with corporate America and finally as farmers in Tennessee. Over the years, Kay served as a volunteer nurse, devoting more than 40,000 hours of service through the American Red Cross and the Veterans Administration.

Kay had the personality, skill and ability to do just about anything. She could be the consummate host of scientists who launched the first U.S. satellite, an able assistant to the chief psychiatrist of a VA hospital, a midwife to beef cattle, an electrician or an accomplished bridge player holding her own with grand masters. She was an avid reader and learned to surf the Internet at the age of 80. Kay was at ease with anyone from Army generals in dress blues, to corporate chief executive officers in three-piece suits, to tobacco farmers in Jack Rabbit overalls.

She knew no strangers, and left a positive mark on the world through her kindness and compassion, always tending to the needs of others before her own. She was deeply grounded in her Christian faith and stood up for equality of all people everywhere, long before it was fashionable to do so. It was not so much what she said but what she did and how she lived her life.

Kay loved her family and was proud of them all. She also loved life and gave back much more than she received. Although she is sorely missed, there is no doubt the world is better place because of Kathryn Elizabeth Heath.

For those who desire, a suggested memorial is: Kathryn Stouffer Heath Registered Nurse Scholarship, c/o Hagerstown Community College Foundation, Inc., 11400 Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21742-6590.

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