A member of the “Greatest Generation,” Catherine “Kitty” Lorden didn’t make a name for herself storming beaches during the war or building an empire, as her son Gregory “Greg” Lorden likes to say.
Instead, she was a “hero of the heart.”
Kitty’s legacy is raising six children with her husband of almost 64 years, Harry Lorden, while modeling a life and marriage based on faith, love and respect.
“She was an engaged mom,” said Greg, who lives in Littleton, Colo. “She was ever present, whether it was a scrape or we needed a cold drink.”
Kitty and Harry grew up in Baltimore. They met while both were working for the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.
Their first date was the day after Christmas in 1945, and they got married on Jan. 17, 1948.
“I was making $25 a week, and Kitty loved that big money,” Harry said with a laugh.
“She was very loving, caring and beautiful. She was just a nice, nice lady. I thought she’d make a perfect wife, and she did,” he said.
Harry said their marriage was a success because of commitment and instead of splitting responsibilities 50/50, it was more like 75/75 in the Lorden household.
Greg said it would be more accurate to say both of his parents gave 100 percent.
The Lordens had four children when Harry started going to night school three nights a week to further his career. When they moved to Hagerstown for his job as an appliance salesman, they had six children and his job required overnight travel two nights a week.
“She didn’t fuss at all. I owe all my success to her,” Harry said.
“When Dad traveled, we always knew Mom would be home,” said daughter Theresa Caputy of Vienna, Va.
The family lived on Cherry Tree Circle near Paramount. Even with four of her six children still at home, Kitty took in her bedridden parents from Baltimore in 1974.
More than nine years ago, Kitty and Harry moved to Summerland Manor, where they enjoyed an active social life, in addition to their church community at St. Ann Roman Catholic Church.
“She lived her faith, walked the walk,” Theresa said.
“She modeled what she believed,” Greg said.
Kitty and Harry had hosted a weekly Bible study together for 15 years. After moving to Summerland Manor, they started a weekly TGIF social in the late afternoon.
The Lordens’ home was a gathering place, in large part due to Kitty. She was known for her knack of being able to relate to all age groups, as well as making people feel special.
“Growing up, our door was always open. There were a lot of parties,” Theresa said.
Grandson Timmy Caputy, 21, said Kitty was close with some of his friends whom she had gotten to know on family trips to the beach. He said she stayed up past midnight at Christmas “with a bunch of my friends.”
Christmas was always held at the Lorden home, with both sides of the family traveling from Baltimore. Every Christmas Eve, Kitty baked a birthday cake for Jesus and gathered of all the neighbor kids to sing “Happy Birthday” and feast on cake, Theresa said.
“We didn’t have much, but we never knew it,” Greg said.
He remembers giving his mother an inexpensive serving set, which she proceeded to use for serving the green beans for that evening’s dinner. She also made Jell-O, which was a special treat. Greg said she made him feel like he had given her Waterford crystal.
The couple’s three daughters and three sons attended St. Mary Catholic School and St. Maria Goretti High School. The four youngest graduated from college. There were 12 grandchildren.
“They made a lot of sacrifices,” Theresa said.
Family was a priority for Kitty, and they suffered 14 years ago after the loss of a son, Mike, who died of cancer at age 32.
“It was brutal,” Greg said.
Son Patrick “Pat” Lorden of Hunt Valley, Md., said there were no weekend getaways or extravagant purchases for his parents. Instead, they spent their money on new school uniforms, books and baseball gloves as their children needed them.
Firstborn Mary “Gere” Gilroy describes her mother as “the most giving person on the face of the earth.”
A big night out for Kitty and Harry was attending the annual Goretti Bonanza or going out dancing, which they did infrequently.
Greg said they “all got a dose of reality” when they started having children, wondering how their parents had made raising six children appear so effortless.
Kitty’s one splurge was her weekly hair appointment at the beauty salon.
“I never interfered with that,” Harry said.
Kitty didn’t learn to drive until her late 40s or so. Pat said he and Mike thought she learned so she could drive them to Little League games and other activities.
“We laughed at her driving tendencies,” Pat said. “She was nervous and uncomfortable.”
When the family got a pool, Theresa said her mother took her role as protector seriously and took a lifesaving class, earning a badge to prove it.
Kitty also had a creative side and enjoyed sewing, crocheting and knitting.
“She could whip out a prom dress, bridesmaid dresses and Easter dresses. She never sweated it,” Theresa said.
For the past two years, Kitty had been in and out of rehabilitation centers after falling, which often was attributed to several cardiac issues.
Her most recent fall was in September 2011 and, with Harry as her cheerleader, she rallied and was walking without a walker right after Christmas.
Several weeks later, Kitty died in her sleep, just as she had desired, always concerned for being a burden to her family. Her death came two days before their 64th wedding anniversary.
Harry describes their life together as “married bliss. I wish I could have had another 100 years with her.”
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 Catherine T. Lorden, who died Jan. 15 at the age of 84. Her obituary was published in the Jan. 17 edition of The Herald-Mail.