Obituary: Kathryn Hiza

Tue, 08/13/2013 - 2:00pm

Kathryn Ahern Hiza, loving wife of 56 years to Robert J. Hiza, mother to four sons, grandmother of 11 and friend to so many, passed away peacefully on a beautiful summer afternoon at home in Orange, Conn., on July 17, 2013. At her side were husband Bob and son Chris. Kathryn was born in Bridgeport, Conn., on Feb. 13, 1934 and graduated from Stratford High School in 1952. She attended Albertus Magnus College and met Bob on a ski trip to Vermont and they were married six months later. She then decided to major in her family and became an original stay-at-home mom, raising four active sons to become fine young men, husbands and fathers.

After a weekend at the Spring House in 1964, she was determined that future vacations would be on Block Island. After five summers at Cutting Cottages, Kathryn declared she was not leaving without a piece of the Block, and she and Bob bought their “diamond in the rough” on Beacon Hill Road. The next 40 summers were a splendid mix of fun in the sun for the family, with Kathryn zipping around in her jeep and signature straw hat, summer jobs for the boys and taking the rough edges off our diamond.

Over the years, and especially this past year, the family would all reminisce about events on Block Island that involved people such as Willis Dodge keeping the old Jeep running for Kathryn; Flora Totten (their neighbor who never owned a car) walking into town to work at the Blue Dory every day; Gene Rankin’s summer concerts at the Spring House; Tom Littlefield delivering water to our cistern ($12 a load); Captain Evans, on the original Block Island ferry from New London, misjudging his momentum and crunching into Payne’s Dock (which Bob would redesign decades later); Buster, the first mate on the Quonset; Paul and Victor Filippi, who kept their boys employed and out of most trouble many summers at Champlin’s and Ballard’s, and so many others…

But more than almost anything, Kathy lived for and was most proud of her 11 grandchildren, who returned every summer to Block Island from all over the world for her annual and much-anticipated theme party, the last of which was a luau with hula dancers, tiki torches and “Jeep Sledding” about the property (which is precisely as dangerous and exciting as it sounds). As her sons grew up, moved on and travelled the world raising their own families, the one constant was her unconditional love for them, her husband, and 11 grandchildren (who were the joy of her life), and her love was the North Star that guided them all faithfully back every summer to celebrate and console, mourn and marvel, and to now look fondly back at the milestones of the passing years. She could drive a nail, a World War Two-era Army Jeep (standard shift, 3-speed, no top, not much brakes) and a household of adventurous boys and men simultaneously; she loved her gardens in Connecticut and on the island, hats of all kinds, and the warm, soft surf on Crescent Beach in August, where she can still be felt in the summer breeze.