Throughout her life, Kathy Hildre was known as an organizing and networking force, gathering friends and family together for a variety of experiences and keeping everyone connected. Then she shocked them by suddenly passing from this portion of life on December 12, 2016 at age 74. She did so, as she did most things, in notable style, for it took two heart attacks to take this strong, vibrant woman. Katherine Jane Orme arrived in Juneau on September 29, 1942 to James and Jessie Orme. From her earliest years, Kathy discovered the knack for creating groups of friends, which continued into Juneau High School where she could always be found in the thick of things. After graduating in 1960, she attended Griffin Murphy Business School in Seattle and began work with First national bank in Anchorage and then Juneau where she later met Ron Hildre. They wed on Dec. 9, 1978. Kathy was a supportive and generous friend, mother, and wife, who enjoyed spending time with Ron and their son, Jim, aboard their boat the Ar-Sin.
Tourism and Juneau became the focus of her interests outside family life. Kathy began her long tourism career at Glacier Bay lodge where she worked for over 40 years, 15 of them as a manager. Later, when she and Ron traveled during winters, she worked summer seasons with Holland America Princess, Allen Marine, and Four Seasons Marine. Her co-workers recognized her as someone who cared deeply about Juneau, and wanted to provide the best experiences for visitors.
Kathy volunteered for many civic pursuits, recruiting for her projects with an ability for putting the right people together, and she expected the same level of commitment from others that she gave. Between 1979 and 1996, she co-chaired the Golden North Salmon Derby seven times, more than anyone. A staunch supporter for keeping Juneau the capital, she served as a longtime Alaska Committee board member. More recently she chaired Capital City Celebrations, creating monthly Juneau events for Alaska's 50th year of statehood for which she received a certificate of appreciation from the City and Borough of Juneau. She also frequently worked on local elections and served on the Juneau Crime Line board.
Kathy's absence has left an ache in the hearts of those accustomed to receiving her calls and visits of support. Some were former classmates and friends who gathered for a Monday coffee group she started. She amazed them with her ability to remember so many facts about so many people. Her feisty spirit was often evident in her strongly expressed points of view, but such moments were softened by her lighthearted storytelling and playful sense of humor. Always curious about new trends, she could turn a story about trying on the women's shapewear, Spanx, into a standup comedy routine. In true Kathy form, she had already started talking to classmates about a reunion in 2017.
Kathy was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Pat Orme. She is survived by her husband Ron, son Jim, and daughter Stromy Keyes; grandchildren Locke Anne Keyes, Savannah Hildre, Colin Hildre, and Olivia Trani; and many extended family throughout Southeast Alaska and beyond. Donations can be made in Kathy's memory to Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, 419 Sixth Street, Juneau, AK 99801. The Family can be contacted at P.O. Box 21433, Juneau, AK 99802. A spring Celebrations of Life will be announced at a later date.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Jan. 5 to Feb. 4, 2017