Emma Kate Stechmiller

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  • "Dear Bruce, Billy, and families, I am so sorry to learn..."
    - Dick Thompson
  • "Bruce Condolences on the death of your mother. I just..."
  • "Bruce and family.Our love and prayers are with you.Jim and..."
  • "Peace and comfort be with you and yours at this special..."
  • "Bruce&Joyce. Hope the Lord give you steinght at the passing..."
    - Jack&Nohra Londono
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Emma Kate Stechmiller, aged 94, died peacefully at E.T. York Hospice House on Wednesday, April 25th. Kate was the sixth of eight children born to Ivy Oma Griffin father and Bashie Keel Griffin mother on Jan 20, 1918 in Grove Hill, Alabama. Her surviving siblings are her younger sister, Dell Carr Gainesville and her baby brother Ivy Byrd Griffin Chiefland . Kate moved from Alabama with her family to Chicago in 1924. In 1932 the Depression motivated her father to try to make a living farming in Chiefland, Fl where his sister lived. It was an arduous, bare bones living as Kate and her sisters Iree, Meldee, and Dell, and brothers Jack, Hellis, Quill, and Byrd, told us children many times. Even if exaggerated at times, we knew we had it much easier than they. In spite of being kept out of school to work the fields at times, Kate graduated Valedictorian of her class of eight from Chiefland High School in 1936. In spite of receiving a partial scholarship to Stetson, Kate had insufficient funds to achieve her dream of a college education. That dream was instrumental in her later decision to move to Gainesville.

In 1938, Kate was wired money by her sister Meldee and moved back to Chicago. She worked as a teletype operator at Link Belt, a heavy equipment producer. There she met Bill Stechmiller, whom she married on Aug 29, 1941. He served in the 128th Infantry Artillery in Europe and the Battle of the Bulge. At wars completion he attended Elgin Watch College in Elgin, Ill. There, he met a watch repair student sent by Ms. Bessie Rutherford, owner of Rutherford's Jewelry of Gainesville. She informed Bill of Rutherford's need for a watch repairer. Kate and Bill realized the chance for a college education for their young sons and Bill began employment at Rutherford's in late 1946 at $75.00 a month.

Kate cared for her three sons until 1956 when she began working at the student employment office at the University of Florida. She loved her job helping students matriculate. She retired after 24 years 1980 to care for Bill who was ill. He passed in 1983 and she remained an active widow for 29 years. She remained physically active until spinal stenosis confined her to a wheelchair in 2006. Her mind was sharp until her death. She and her family are indebted to Martha Ray and Lyndetta Spann for the compassion and care they provided over her last six years.

Kate served hundreds of hours as an Auxilian at her beloved Alachua General Hospital. She was also a member of Gainesville Garden Club and DAR. Since 1946 she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville where she taught Sunday school to 5 and 6 year olds for 30 years.

Kate loved her family and the Griffin clan remains close, enjoying annual Fourth of July reunions at Crescent Beach for 30 years. She is survived by sons Bruce Joyce and Billy Betsy , her daughter in law Linda son Terry passed away in 2011 , and five grandchildren Evan Charlotte , Kirk, Tara King John , Stephanie and Chris, and four great grandchildren.

If inclined, please consider a donation to E.T. York Haven Hospice House or First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Funeral arrangements by Milam Funeral Home. Funeral service will be announced at a later date.

Published in Gainesville Sun from Apr. 27 to Apr. 28, 2012
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