Date of birth: August 7 1942
Date of death: May 8 2019
Kathleen “Kathy” White, 76, of Kennewick, Washington, died May 8, 2019, in Portland, Oregon, due to complications from interstitial lung disease. She was born on Aug 7, 1942, to Walter and Lottie Ksicinski in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the great-granddaughter of Polish immigrants.
Kathy earned an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1962. She moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where she helped introduce the profession of dental hygiene to the Swiss. While there, she shared an apartment with Meredith Dyer Sweet and Nancy Hansen. The close-knit trio developed a lifelong friendship and continued to travel together for 50-plus years.
Kathy continued to serve as a hygienist when she returned to Wisconsin in 1967. She earned a bachelor of science from Marquette University in 1971. Kathy later met her husband of 41 years, Michael “Mike” White, through an early computer dating service. She decided he was someone special when Mike, a mechanical engineer, took her to an engineering conference. The two married July 15, 1977.
They moved to Los Angeles, where their daughter, Frances “Franny” White, was born in 1980. Kathy fell ill soon afterward and was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus, though the diagnosis was later changed to mixed connective tissue disease. After years of treatment, she regained her strength, and finished a master’s degree in health and safety studies from Cal State University Los Angeles in 1985.
The family moved to the Tri-Cities, Washington, in 1985. Kathy taught dental assisting at Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, Washington. She attended night classes at Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington, to earn a teaching certificate. Kathy then taught subjects such as health and biology at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick. She semi-retired in 2004, but still taught biology part-time at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington.
Kathy fought for quality, equitable education while serving on the Kennewick School Board 2008-2011. She volunteered with the Girl Scouts, the secondhand charity store Sails Outlet in Kennewick, the local American Association for University Women chapter, and the Allied Arts Association in Richland, Washington. Kathy also supported her husband’s love of aviation, volunteering at the Richland Fly-In and traveling with him across the country in their small plane.
Kathy was a member of St. Joseph’s Parish in Kennewick, where she volunteered an hour of weekly adoration before the communion host. She also supported the work of female priest Diane Whalen. And she valued the support of a local group for those with the autoimmune disease scleroderma.
Kathy is dearly missed by her husband Mike, daughter Franny of Portland, sister Juliana Ksicinski of Milwaukee, brother Gary Ksicinski and his wife, Mae Ksicinski, both of Gilbert, Arizona, and many friends. Her parents preceded her in death.
Please make a donation in Kathy’s honor to a charity that addresses education, health or democracy issues.
A gathering to celebrate Kathy’s life will be held at a later date.
6 tribute candles have been lit
Candle lit by Teresa Carstens My deepest sympathies. She was a wonderful person who made you want to laugh right along with her. She will be missed.
Candle lit by Cindy Church
Candle lit by Staff at Crown Memorial Center Our sincere condolences.
Candle lit by Kris Wentz-Graff Such a lovely tribute! I never met Kathy in person, but her love of life and generous spirit definitely lives on through you, Franny. Sending hopes of peace and comfort to you and your father.
Candle lit by Beth Heinrich Franny - it's easy to understand how you became you with such a wonderful mother, who led an incredible life and leaves a legacy not only in you, but also in the community. Thinking of you and your father during this time.
Candle lit by Tracey Lam What an amazing life. She raised a wonderful daughter and left a beautiful legacy.