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Katharyn Witt Lash
June 22, 1918 – Dec. 31, 2005 Katharyn Witt Lash, a native Missourian and longtime Overland Park resident, died on New Year’s Eve in Lenexa, from complications of a failing heart. She was 87 and lived by the values she considered integral to the Midwest: self reliance, honesty, humility, hard work, education, respect for others, and a strong belief in God, family and country. She raised four children, all of whom reflect her values. Born in Memphis, MO in 1918, she was raised in the farmlands of Scotland County in northeastern Missouri, where her great grandparents had arrived by covered wagon in the 1840s. When her father’s small bank failed during the Depression, the family moved to Canton in Lewis County so that she and her brother could attend Culver Stockton College. At 20 she graduated from the school, where she was a member of the debate team and the Chi Omega Sorority. She obtained a master’s degree in Library Sciences from the University of Illinois and taught high school English and was a school librarian in Canton; Finlay, Ohio and Iowa. Recruited by Trans World Airlines, she ultimately became an international stewardess. In September 1945, she flew from Chicago to Kansas City. On board were 19 men in uniform, all returning from World War II and including her future husband, Capt. Frederick F. Lash of Westmoreland County, Penna. She claimed that he pursued her; he said the opposite. They were married in August 1946 and he headed to Tokyo, Japan, to be part of the U.S. Army of occupation. She followed on a troop ship along with four other young Army wives, all who gave birth to children in Japan and remained lifelong friends. Subsequent Army postings included Rio de Janeiro, London, and Ft. Leavenworth, KS. She considered each an opportunity to make new friends and gain fresh perspectives, and everywhere she volunteered with hospital or community services. In 1971, she returned to her beloved Midwest, living in Overland Park and Lenexa, KS. For several years she served as chairperson of the annual Kansas City Book and Authors Committee. She was also a docent for the Wornall House and was both a Deacon and Elder of Leawood Presbyterian Church. Additionally, she renewed her ties with Chi Omega and the American Association of University Women. In her final years, she socialized with good friends in two bridge groups several book clubs and an international affairs club; as well as gently supervising from afar the education of her grandchildren. She died peacefully at home, mentioning a few days before that “so many things and great friends were just dropped in my lap.” She is survived by her children, all born in world capitols; Lt. Col. Frederick F. Lash Jr. (Ret), of Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y.; Mr. Herbert W. Lash of Bronxville, N.Y.; Mrs. Leslie Mustard of Princeton, Ind.; Mrs. JoAnne Schuster of Hugo, Okla. and nine grandchildren. All are indebted to her love, wisdom and support. Memorial services will be on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 1:30 p.m. at Leawood Presbyterian Church, 2715 W. 83rd, Leawood.
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