Kathryn Keim Lorenz, 92, of Mills River died January 26th peacefully at home while recuperating from a stroke suffered on November 24th.
Kathryn, “Katie” to all who knew and loved her, was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. A daughter of the late Dr. Cameron Keim and Kathryn “Kitty” March Keim and big sister to Cameron Keim of AZ and the late Gretchen White of SC. She graduated with fond memories from J.W. Sexton High School and was 1952 graduate of Purdue University where she met her husband of 70 years, Jerome “Jack” Lorenz. Katie was a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity and served in many offices of the Alumnae Clubs where she lived. Her main interest was the Pi Beta Phi philanthropy Arrowmont, first started as the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Appalachia and evolving into the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
Katie and Jack moved to Mills River Village from Birmingham, MI, in 1990 to start an active life of retirement that was filled with friendships and travels. They traveled by land, air and sea visiting all 50 states and over six different countries.
Her devotion to her family was paramount in her life’s priorities while she still managed an interesting career in merchandising and advertising before retirement to North Carolina.
She is preceded in death by her beloved son, Randy. She is survived by her husband, Jerome, her daughters, Kathryn Lorenz of CO, Lori Lorenz of CO, Kimberly Lorenz of NH, and her son Jerry and his wife Vladi of NC, five grandchildren: Christian, Avery, Cameron, William and Toussaint and Toussaint’s two children. Katie is best honored by sending donations to her beloved Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, visit http://www.arromont.org to find ways to contribute.
No services are planned at this time. Please sign the tribute wall below.
My mother was not an old woman to me. She will forever be that energetic young mom who could read to us in the car at 65 mph as I marveled that she didn’t get carsick like the rest of us. Or she’d jump out on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park at 10,000 feet of altitude shouting “come on kids”. Hiking up to the top of a mountain while we all lagged behind, exhausted and out of breath from the elevation; and, no doubt, the Dramamine. She was the mom who gathered the cousins in Michigan to play in the water every year and camp in the summer while we explored the country from the back seat of the station wagon. And she would show up at those critical moments in your life when you most needed your mom to comfort or champion you.
Mom was the quintessential mother. At times overbearing with expectations and standards that usually reached beyond your own but were born of hope, belief, faith and love – fierce love in her children, her husband, her friends and her kin. She had a keen eye and even keener wit and could as easily slay you as comfort you. I don’t think I fully understood how sharp witted and intelligent, perhaps even brilliant, mom was until these final months when barriers were removed that had kept her from acknowledging or revealing what an observant, clear sight she had into people and what a clever mind she possessed.
She orchestrated the world she touched and seemed to push on enduring we lesser mortals that surrounded her knowing she could manage things much more astutely, efficiently and cleverly than we. I think she suffered our feeble attempts at life’s orchestration out of love and tolerance, all the while knowing she could do better and often did, if we let her. This included her sense of fashion. She had a robust wardrobe surpassed only by her sister Gretchen and always wore the appropriate attire for any occasion. Pi Phi sorority life suited her at a time when sororities channeled young women towards social etiquette, community service and sisterhood. She remained committed to all three throughout her life. My mother was a truly elegant lady who bore it both deliberately and naturally.
Mom met and made friends easily and for life. She stayed in touch with everyone who ever mattered to her and remembered details in your life and the lives of complete strangers with a sharpness that I’ve begun to identify as that of a “social savant”. It seemed she never forgot a face, even when the lines of time were gracing it, as they inevitably do. It’s like she memorized the essence of a being; so, as the exterior evolved, she could still see and recognize the interior. She read people instantly and she had a way of knowing if someone was good or bad for you which we ignored at our own peril. It appears her gift was that of genuine like or interest in people. She would ask the right questions coaxing out information she’d meticulously store in her mind only to retrieve at the most appropriate moment in the future when least expected and most needed. I was always mystified that she could stay connected and manage so many relationships at once. And she was truly fun to be with and around.
Mom was the story holder and storyteller in our family. She held the memories of our lives for generations back and her loss is the loss of our stories reaching through times long shadow. Some of it is recorded to pass on but much more has gone with her than we will ever collectively recall. It makes me think, there is this thing called life – our one life – and that we each alone get to live it. That time will march through, past and beyond us. That we are all but bit players in something that is endlessly and relentlessly moving forward with – and then – without us. For her part, Katie Keim of Lansing, Katie Keim Lorenz, neighbor, friend, aunt, sister, daughter, mother and wife, was a bit player who played her part fully, fiercely, lovingly and long for all of us to share and be shaped by. No one ever came into contact with Katie Lorenz and left the encounter untouched or unmoved. Mom didn’t always know how to express it, but she knew and taught us all how to love deeply and committedly.
Mom, I will miss you in ways I cannot even fathom right now but know you live on in each of our hearts for as long as we inhabit these bodies you bore us. Rest in peace dear heart, you deserve it, and we will carry on in our own “though feeble” way. We got this mom – you are released from your life of service. Go in peace and rest in peace knowing you are loved, cherished and remembered.