May 9, 1964-December 18, 2021
Kathryn’s refusal to relinquish the reins while seated aboard an igloo cooler in her childhood games of “Wagon Train” was unsurprising to everyone who knew her.
A traumatic childhood that included a cancer diagnosis, amputation of her right leg at age nine, left knee replacement, three lung surgeries, and chemo and radiation that left her with a damaged heart that led to progressive heart failure would have dulled the shine on any other individual, but it gave Kathryn a patina and ferocity that she used to create a life of abundant experiences.
After suing her high school to fix multiple safety violations during her senior year (she won), Kathryn was accepted to Trinity College in Hartford, CT where she majored in American Studies. She earned a Kellogg Fellowship and traveled the world as part of that leadership development program. Her curiosity, engagement and interview skills helped her cultivate enduring friendships and propelled her in her chosen field of market research where she became the U.S. CEO of the London-based firm Cello Health.
Kathryn was passionate about music and radio, working with her first boss and dear friend Dan Hayden at the rock station WHCN-FM in Hartford, CT, and then at KBOQ-FM in Santa Cruz, CA.
She was a voracious reader and a creative cook. Although she was always the smartest person in the room, she was also positive, caring and inquisitive. Her charisma was infectious.
In her 40s, Kathryn realized her childhood dream of driving horses when she convinced horseman Dale Vidler to take her on as a student. Kathryn would gleefully describe the incredulous look that came over Dale’s face when she revealed to him that she only had one leg, but Dale and Kathryn shared a dry sense of humor and became the greatest of friends. Over the years Dale and Nancy became like family to Kathryn and her husband, Peter. Kathryn owned three registered Morgan horses that she kept with the Vidlers; park harness mare Sunny Acres Miss Scarlett, and two carriage horses; gelding DTA Tuff Enough and mare JPR Top Of The Line. Kathryn overcame great physical limitations and a late start in the sport to win the Pleasure Turnout at the famous carriage pleasure driving show Walnut Hill (among a class of 31 entries) and a Morgan Grand National Championship in Cones. She found the thrill and speed of the cones course magnetic, and although racing around traffic cones behind a gelding whose enthusiasm for speed and velocity matched Kathryn’s terrified her husband (an athlete and sportsman himself), he admired and respected her fiercely competitive spirit.
She gave back to the horse community as a contributing writer to both The Whip and The Morgan Horse magazines, penning such memorable articles as The Horses and Horsemen of Central Park (The Whip, November 2016), Carriage Clinic: Everything You Need To Know About Carriage Driving (The Morgan Horse, October 2014), Morgans Making Magic In Movies (The Morgan Horse, July 2015), Four Times Four, The Morgan Teams (The Morgan Horse, March 2014), and Addressing Water Obstacles (The Morgan Horse, October 2015).
Kathryn had the pleasure of being married to her best friend of 43 years, Peter Roberts, for the last 12 years of her life. She felt as if she’d won the lottery by marrying him, though he says the honor to watch and witness her life was all his. Peter was never more than a few paces away from the rail whenever Kathryn competed with her horses. She was the brains and he the brawn in their deeply layered relationship. Together, they helped raise their nephew, Sam, at their home in Rochester, NY, an experience that was one of the great joys of Kathryn’s life.
Recurring cancer and heart failure treatments never dashed Kathryn’s spirit. She had a base layer of toughness from her childhood experiences that gave her the pain tolerance and grit to beat esophageal cancer through proton beam therapy and surgery, and then the horrid end stage heart failure treatments.
Kathryn’s life was a Masterclass in will and wit, and she outlasted and outperformed every day of her life. She is acutely missed by all who loved her.
Submitted by her friend, Abbie Trexler
Photo by Peter Roberts