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Kathryn O. Rogers

March 1, 1915 ~ June 11, 2018 (age 103)


Kathryn Orr Rogers, 103, died peacefully with family by her side on June 11, 2018, at the farm home where she has lived for nearly 75 years.

Born March 1, 1915, in Moscow Idaho, the oldest daughter of Victor and Velva Dew Orr, she joined an older brother Kenneth. Younger sisters, Lois, Edith, and Jean soon increased the family.

Kathryn, nicknamed Kayo, always felt her childhood, growing up in small-town Moscow, where her father was station master for Northern Pacific Railway, was idyllic. All her life she would remember the quiet evening streets and the winter sounds of sleigh bells on the horse carriages, before automobiles became commonplace. With her brother and sisters, her neighborhood included an “Our Gang” group of children, and the stories of their antics would later entertain her own children and grandchildren through the years. One of her goals as a young girl was to read all the books in the public library, which was only two blocks from her home. She worked faithfully on that goal all her life.

She graduated from Moscow High School in 1932. In high school she met her beloved Les, and on April 5, 1933, she and Lester Rogers, grandson of a Latah County pioneer family, were married.

They began their life together on the Knepper farm on Moscow Mountain, later moving to the Goddard Farm east of Moscow.  Lester was in the Idaho State Guard and was an expert welder so in 1941, he moved the family to Kapowsin, Washington, where he worked as a welder in the naval shipyards in Tacoma, Washington.  In 1943 the family returned to Latah County to farm in the Estes area with Les’s parents, Tom and LaDessa Rogers.

In 1954 when she was 39, Kathryn was widowed when Lester died of cancer.  Five of her six children, ages 4 years to 17, were still at home. She began working night shifts at Gritman Hospital as a nurse’s aide and then was hired by the Moscow Clinic in 1956.  With training she eventually did their laboratory technology work and became the Clinic’s x-ray technician.

Her life was full and demanding, raising her children by herself, managing her jobs and the farm, and each season she planted a large vegetable garden from which she canned and froze the produce, and taught her children those skills. She treasured family recipes and for Christmas, made dozens of tins full of cookies from vintage family recipes, for lucky relatives. Although she had been raised a ‘city girl’, she embraced farm life and was an enthusiastic 4-H leader for more than 20 years.  In 2012, her family was recognized by the University of Idaho Extension Service as a 4-H Century Family.  Well into her 60s’s she continued to care for her own aging parents and her mother-in-law until their deaths.

In 1967 she was given the opportunity to manage the Microbiology Laboratory at Washington State University, which supported classes in that subject. She found this work with the faculty, graduate assistants and students most interesting and challenging until she retired in 1980.

She was a 75- year member of Order of Eastern Star, Ruby Chapter, she held the Silent Worker award as well as many offices, and was Ruby Chapter Treasurer for 25 years. She was an 80 year member of the Estes Club, a neighborhood club for farm women, and a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church.

Kathryn was honored by her family for her kindness and loyalty, for her courage and her curiosity.  Her lifelong interests and enthusiasms included Native American history, Egyptian history, classical music, bird watching and Northwest history. She valued education and inspired it in her children. For most of her life she read two newspapers every day. She swam several times a week until she was 95. Through her work in the medical field, her work at WSU, and her activities in Eastern Star and 4-H programs, she touched hundreds of lives.

She is survived by children: Lois (Craig Alton), Leslyn Polk, LaDessa (Dale Smelcer), Linda (Jack Frostenson), Kathleen (Phil Crossler)

Grandchildren: Lester Hewitt-Alton, Mark Hewitt. Robert (Bob) Alton, Jennifer Alton Orseth, Ruth Corless (Mark) McIvers, Phillip Corless (Karyn), John Smelcer (Mpho Tlali), Aric Frostenson (Michelle), Anders Frostenson (Bobi Jo), Jamon Frostenson (Annie), Debbi Crossler (Mike) Burr, Patricia Crossler White, Rebecca Crossler (Justin) Haney.

Great Grandchildren: Erica Hewitt (Sean) Hanley, David Hewitt, Kathryn Hewitt, Jessica Jensen, Jordyn Jensen, Jillian Jensen, Jack Orseth, Justus Orseth, Jett Orseth, Sarah McIvers, Michael McIvers, Matthew Corless, Elissa Corless, Mohale Smelcer, Keneoue Smelcer, Andrew Frostenson, Kathryn Frostenson, Marcus Frostenson, Bria Frostenson, Fritz Frostenson, Stellan Frostenson, Megan Burr, Ryan Burr, Quinton White, Max White, Lucus Haney, Reece Haney, Seth Haney.

Great-great grandchildren: Cora and Finn Hanley

Nephews/nieces: Charles Orr (Ann), Mary Elizabeth (Rich) Garber, Victor Orr (Donna), Margaret (Phillip) Doleac, Sharon (Ed) McAdam, Tom (Becky) Rogers

She was predeceased by:

Husband, Lester in 1954 and her son Kenneth Lloyd in 1983, by her parents, Victor and Velva Dew Orr, her brother, General Kenneth Dew Orr M.D. (Helen Martin), sisters, Lois (Sidney Mikula), Edith (John Ivy), and Jean. Grandson, Matthew Corless, niece Vicky Mikula Crenshaw, sons-in-law, David Hewitt and Lee Polk.

The family would like to extend a thank-you to Kindred Hospice nurses and staff who have taken such compassionate care of Kathryn and to the gentle hands of the health aides who tended for her so capably during the past year.

Memorial contributions may be made to Kindred Hospice, the Order of Eastern Star, or Kenneth Rogers Scholarship at Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at Short’s Funeral Chapel in Moscow. Burial will follow at the Moscow Cemetery.

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