It’s always delightful when someone can recite from memory a poignant verse or statement that perfectly captures an essential sentiment.
It’s amazing when that someone celebrated her 107th birthday on July 18.
Meet Kathryn Sanders Rieder, who, it can safely be said, is United Church Homes’ oldest donor. She’s been a faithful and generous donor for more than 30 years, with gifts thus far exceeding more than $175,000. Among her gifts was the establishment of The Dale H. & Kathryn Sanders Rieder Endowment Fund, designated to provide benevolent care for Chapel Hill Community residents who have outlived their resources.
Kathryn has enjoyed the fruits of a very long, well-lived, artistically-driven life. She is an independent, enterprising, engaging individual. She’s articulate, thoughtful, genuine and heart-warming—a lady from long, long ago.
Kathryn was born in Springfield, Ohio, and graduated from Wittenberg University in 1929. Her mother, Grace, was an instructor at Berea College in Kentucky, and a very talented writer who inspired Kathryn from her earliest days. Among her fondest memories was waking up each morning to the sound of typewriter keys tapping, and watching her mother write “all the time,” plying her skills, day in and day out.
When Kathryn entered college she had dreams of studying either journalism, design or music. After playing the piano for the registrar at Wittenberg, he told her she must decide on a musical career. She did, and it served her well.
She began her career as a music teacher in Orrville, Ohio, where she met her husband Dale. She joined (as a Methodist) the Christ UCC Church in Orrville, and was chosen to direct the choir. Her involvement with Christ UCC Church is what led to her relationship with United Church Homes.
Kathryn visited congregation members at Chapel Hill Community, located some 15 miles away in Canal Fulton. She was so impressed with the way Chapel Hill “showed an interest in older people and took care of them whether they could pay or not.” This was the beginning of her giving to United Church Homes.
Kathryn enjoyed a long career as a music supervisor in the public schools in both Orrville and Marysville. In her spare time, she listened to her Muse and pursued her active interests as a talented pianist, lyricist, director, vocalist, composer, author and poet. In 1936 Kathryn directed the 65-voice choir of Orrville High School which performed Mendelssohn’s entire oratorio, “Hymn of Praise,” from memory. Other music instructors considered this to be an extraordinary feat, and Kathryn quickly earned the reputation as a music teacher of some renown. During her career she wrote and submitted articles, short stories, verses, children’s operettas and musical compositions to popular and widely read magazines, including The Etude, a prominent music magazine of its time.
She has published more than 550 articles, songs and stories in 100 different magazines. She wrote inspirational articles, articles on the art of living for young people that were translated into foreign languages. During her teaching career, she also taught private lessons in piano, violin and voice. She finished her remarkable music career by directing church choirs until finally retiring in 1989, at the age of 82.
Kathryn was honored by United Church Homes in 1998 with the Ben M. Herbster Award at Chapel Hill Community in for her leadership, philanthropic support, achievements and philosophy of improving the care of the elderly.
In a note Kathryn wrote to UCH leadership shortly after that award, she ended it with a favorite quote from Helen Steiner Rice that reads, “Each day is a stepping-stone to endless joys as yet unknown.”
She added, “May it be so for us all.”
Yes, Kathryn, so may it be …
Among her gifts was the establishment of The Dale H. & Kathryn Sanders Rieder Endowment Fund, designated to provide benevolent care for Chapel Hill Community residents who have outlived their resources.