July 17, 1940 – June 27, 2020
Kathleen Diane Sanders, was born July 17, 1940 and passed away peacefully on the evening of June 27, 2020. Daughter of Joseph and Mary Csobady of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. Kathy was the eldest of 3 sisters, who were, from the beginning, one another’s closest friends.
Kathleen was a gifted seamstress and textile artist, spending innumerable happy hours sewing and piecing beautiful quilt tops. She leaves behind a literal room of collected, quality fabric and more than a few unfinished pieces, though many completed quilts were given with love to family members over the years. In today’s vernacular, Kathy operated a lucrative side hustle during the 1990s, selling her original wearables and textile arts at craft shows around the region. In these creations, as well as through the eccentric style of her home’s interior and furnishings, she displayed a dynamic, fearless, and unique sense of design, and use of pattern and color. Her most recent artistic pursuit was scrapbooking, and she conceptualized and made detailed notes for hundreds of themed pages of scrapbooks, completing exactly none, as the execution itself was never, it turns out, her interest.
Professionally, Kathleen worked for 34 years at Mead Johnson, then Bristol Myers, but at age 55 was fortuitously gifted the opportunity of early retirement with pension, allowing her to finally sleep late and live as simply and leisurely as she wished, reporting to and accountable to no one.
Her greatest joy was the savoring of a good meal, whether out or at home, and she was an excellent cook, convicted above all of the culinary power of the humble bay leaf. For decades, she made homemade baklava and caramels for the entire family during the holidays, and these are among her enduring kitchen legacies for those who were fortunate enough to receive them. Her chicken and homemade dumplings and chicken soup recipes were, and will remain, particular enduring comforts, which she passed on to her daughter.
As a child and young woman, Kathy was painfully shy, but nonetheless performed as a majorette during high school, later bowled impressively in leagues as an adult, roller skated into her 40s, and in middle age took up country line-dancing. Ever fun-loving and more confident with age, she threw herself a raucous 50th birthday party at what is now Chuck E Cheese, and in her late 60s and early 70s, she had a good run of late-night-into-early-morning dominoes and card parties monthly with her sisters and friends. She loved thrifting and attending quilt shows and house tours with her daughter, in more active days, and for the past 5 years, while housebound, Kathleen enjoyed working puzzles with her surviving sister and granddaughters, watching and mercilessly critiquing a variety of home renovation and home makeover shows, as well as cooking and baking shows - in particular the Great British Baking Show, and never missed an episode of the British comedy-drama series The Durrells in Corfu.
She was also a lifelong voracious reader, often averaging a book a day of recent fiction and mysteries borrowed from the public library. She regaled her daughter frequently with details of the plots, characters, and twists and turns of each book, as though she had lived them herself. Reading was her adventure, a new one embarked upon with each title. With her love of reading, Kathy naturally acquired a vast and commanding vocabulary, which she greatly enjoyed deploying during intensely competitive games of Scrabble with her daughter throughout the years.
Kathleen shared a turbulent, tumultuous, but loving bond with her true love and husband, Jim, who preceded her in death in June 2005. They were, in fact, so committed, they married each other twice, and between the two of them managed to raise one daughter as lovingly and best they could. Left behind as testament are many quickly scrawled but deeply appreciative love notes and affirmations they shared with one another in passing across their 37 years of marriage(s). Following Jim’s death, Kathleen lived contentedly alone, with increasing assistance and support from her daughter and youngest sister, once she was no longer able to drive – cooking a majority of her own meals, doing what she damn well pleased when and exactly how she wanted, and keeping her own eccentric hours – until earlier this year.
Despite even all these fortunate blessings, however, Kathleen’s highest calling and purpose in life was in her role as grandmother, first to her treasured granddaughter Margo, born in 2007, then to her youngest granddaughter June, born in 2011, who was undoubtedly the sunshine of her life and her very best friend. Kathleen poured her heart entirely into playing with, reading to, caring for, worrying about, and baking with them both and cherished each of them beyond all measure. Never was there more happiness in Kathleen’s life than when spending time with, smiling upon, or speaking with and of her granddaughters.
Though Kathleen was not without previous health disruptions – including a 14 year struggle with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; left hip replacement surgery (twice); surprise pulmonary embolisms; occasional TIAs; gallbladder removal at age 76; persistent rheumatoid arthritis, among other vexing but surmountable issues – her death was ultimately brought on by recently-discovered bladder cancer and ensuing, profound neurologic complications. To the end, however, she insisted she was never in pain, and, through all, she undertook procedures, treatments, and medical therapies uncomplainingly, perpetually hopeful and brave.
Kathleen lived with steadfast determination; a quiet, private faith in a good, loving God; true contentment; and a strong, independent will. Of course, she was not perfect: a bullheaded Hungarian, she was late to everything, took her time in excess while doing any and every activity, was often infuriatingly stubborn, and spoke her sharp mind and opinions without apology. However, the qualities for which she will be remembered best and most were her generous gifts of concern, caring, gratitude, and love for her family; a quick, mischievous sense of humor that frequently left her and her daughter in tears from irrepressible (and too often, publicly inappropriate levels of) laughter; and a fervent propensity to relish the beauty of anything and everything – from the birds, squirrels, and rabbits in her yard, to the changing sunlight and weather through all seasons, to each leaf and flower, and every magical phase of the moon. All were noted, always, with true childlike delight and appreciation. She never hesitated to remind her family often that she had, truly, a very happy life.
Kathleen was preceded in death by her husband; her father; her mother; her sister, Delores; and a beloved niece, Denise. She is survived and celebrated by her daughter, Jesika Ellis, and granddaughters Margo and June, of Evansville; her sister, Joyce (Charlie) Melton, of Evansville; niece Michelle (Michael) Newton and family, of Louisville; nephew Michael (Vanessa) Melton and family, of Evansville; niece Rhonda (Bill) Knight and family, of Owensville, IN; and nephew, Leroy Moyer, of Evansville.
Her daughter wishes to express sincere thanks, in particular, for the excellent care and friendship of Kathleen’s oncologist, Dr. Maqbool Ahmed; her family doctor, Dr. Mary Bieker; and the compassion of Dr. Della Dillard; as well as every specialist and nurse who treated her so ably and well over the years. Of special note, the family’s gratitude goes to the floor nurses and CNAs of Woodlands in Newburgh, and Heart-to-Heart Hospice, all of whom treated her gently, respectfully, and kindly during her final weeks and days, especially during her devastating isolation when her daughter and sister could not be with her, due to Covid-19 restrictions and the now-seemingly arbitrary, cruel, and inconsistently enforced state and CDC guidelines. Her family’s hearts deeply ache for each and every other family grieving with this additional hardship, during their time of separation from or loss of their loved one at a nursing home or care facility.
Kathleen chose cremation. A private celebration of Kathleen’s life will take place on the date of what would have been her 80th birthday. If desired and so moved, donations can made be made in Kathleen’s honor to Meals on Wheels (mealsonwheelsofevansville.org/Donate.html), to help others of all ages continue to live independently at home as long as possible; to the Tri-State Food Bank (tristatefoodbank.org); or to the Public Library Friends Endowment Fund held by the Vanderburgh affiliate Foundation of the Community Foundation Alliance of Evansville (communityfoundation.wufoo.com/forms/gifts-to-the-vanderburgh-community-foundation/).
A Private Memorial Service
July 6, 2020
Kathy and I were friends for 50 years, I have wonderful memories of her filled with fun and laughter and delicious food. She dealt with life by finding light and joy and having a positive attitude. She taught me how to live. Sending much love to you and your family, Jesika.
Jacqueline Dente Fowler
July 1, 2020
Jesika and family, I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending love to your family during this difficult time.
June 29, 2020
Marcia and I are so sorry for your loss. Kathy was a very sweet lady. Your family is in our prayers.