JANSON KATHRYN GALT JANSON "Kitty" November 12, 1920 - August 9, 2020 Kathryn Galt Janson was born November 12, 1920, in Tift County, Georgia, the youngest of five siblings to parents Annie Elizabeth Carpenter Galt and George Teasley Galt. The Galt family moved to Florida when Kathryn was very young, and she considered herself a native of Cocoa on Florida's Space Coast. Her birth record was lost in a fire in Tift County when she was a child. Disappointed that she had no claim to a middle name, she adopted the name Malinda Kathryn Galt after her favorite aunt until she was a young adult. For a woman slender and diminutive in stature, she delighted in sharing that she was born weighing a surprising twelve pounds. She came into the world extraordinary and continued to be for the rest of her long life. Kathryn was responsible for maintaining the family's chicken coop as a young girl and often traded fresh eggs for music lessons with her piano instructor. Her mother, Annie, took up extra seamstress work to help purchase an auctioned piano for thirty-five dollars for Kathryn to play. She continued her childhood passion for music and became an accomplished pianist, her personal medium in her lifelong love of classical music. Annie passed away when Kathryn was an adolescent, a loss felt deeply. Kathryn's elder sister, Louise, took her in to live with her family and enabled bright young Kathryn to attend college. The special bond Kathryn developed with her nieces and nephews stayed true for all her years. Kathryn graduated from Florida State College for Women (FSWC), now Florida State University, in 1942, with an education major and minors in Spanish and French. The Dean of FSCW described Kathryn as "a wise and capable leader whose words would matter to others. She has a quiet dignity and high ideals." Kathryn's intellect and adeptness with language and music attracted the attention of recruiters for the budding U.S. intelligence community. She worked briefly at Banana River Naval Air Station, which is now Patrick Air Force Base, before accepting a job as the first female intelligence analyst with the Army Signal Corps in Washington, DC in 1942. The Signal Corps eventually evolved into the National Security Agency (NSA) with the Department of Defense. Kathryn, or "Kitty" as family and friends knew her, rose to the position of CIA Liaison Officer with the NSA - a position she held from 1961 until her retirement in 1972. She served with distinction within the intelligence community for 30 years and 8 months, beginning in WWII through the Korean War and into the Vietnam War. It was when Kathryn began her work with the Army Signal Corps and rented a room from the Janson family of Arlington, VA, that she met her future husband, Lars Edward Janson. Three months later they were married in December of 1943. For 56 years they shared deep mutual interests in music, travel, photography, contemporary art, horticulture, culinary arts, and all things Swedish. They were each other's whole worlds. Throughout Kathryn's 56 years marriage to Lars, they traveled extensively together - both in the United States and abroad to far-flung destinations such as the fjords of Scandinavia or the foothills of the Himalayas - as Lars pursued and refined his lauded landscape and nature photography. Kathryn described her role as encourager, "gofer" and "equipment porter" as they toured the National Parks of America in their shining Airstream RV. During their explorations, she developed an ardor for preserving and protecting the environment and America's wild places. After Lars' death in 1999, Kathryn spent much of her time cataloguing and distributing Lars' photographic collection among educational outlets and museum exhibits. Her elegant prose often graced and beautifully accentuated his photographic prints. A devoted member of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC for 29 years, Kathryn was an advocate for social justice and a generous philanthropist to the causes of education, environmental protection and preservation, women's rights, antiracism, democratic values, the arts, and museums, particularly the Smithsonian Institution. She had a passion for studying history and culture and retained a vast amount of valuable knowledge in the many subjects she studied. Kathryn led an inspiring and spirited life, full of love and friendships and adventure. She eloquently advocated for her beliefs and her values of equality and justice. She held her quiet faith deep and close. She was honest and candid and kind. Kathryn had a witty, and often wonderfully wicked, sense of humor. Kathryn was predeceased by her husband, Lars, her parents, her siblings and their spouses: sister, Virginia Grace Galt at four years old in 1919; sister Louise Galt Kiser of Cocoa, FL; brother, Lewis Alfred Galt of Marietta, GA; brother, Col. George Teasley Galt, Jr., of Satellite Beach, FL. She is survived by a special sister-in-law, Carolyn Janson White and her husband, Edwin White, of Oviedo, FL, and a host of beloved nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, including her adored great-grandnephew and great-grandniece, Austin Prentiss Herrington and Audrey Prentiss Herrington, who loved their Aunt Kitty boundlessly and were by her side in her final moments. A special thank you to her team of wonderful caregivers for their dedicated care in Kathryn's last months. To know Kathryn was to love her and she touched the hearts and minds of many with her empathy, intelligence, and generosity of spirit. Kathryn passed away peacefully in her sleep on August 9, 2020, with loving family by her side in a quiet cottage on a farm in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains; exactly one year to the day of the death of her lifelong best friend, Norma Odom. Norma's daughters were family to "Aunt Kitty" and "Uncle Lars" and Kathryn was a dedicated and guiding light in their lives. She set the standard for style and culinary prowess in their modernist Hollin Hills home, the progressive Alexandria neighborhood where she resided for more than 60 years after she and Lars became founding residents. From an elegant Tarte Tatin to Coquilles St. Jacques to her mother's recipe for Southern Macaroni and Cheese, Kathryn had flair in the kitchen and loved cooking from her immaculate garden. Her knowledgeable appreciation for design, for art, for music, for nature, for quality and beauty in everyday things, for the richness derived in stimulating conversations with others enriched the lives of those fortunate to know her well. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you honor Kathryn's memory with any contribution in her name to one of the many nonprofit organizations to which she was dedicated and generous, including the Environmental Defense Fund, EarthJustice, the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Planned Parenthood, Emily's List, the NAACP, the Smithsonian Institution, or the Virginia Discovery Museum's scholarship fund. Most importantly, please honor Kathryn in November, near what would have been her 100th birthday, by casting your ballot in support of equality of opportunity, justice for all, and saving our planet, all values that Kathryn held deeply. Services will be held at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC in a celebration of Kathryn's almost 100 years of life. Interment alongside Lars will follow at Arlington National Cemetery. Due to the Covid pandemic, the service will be scheduled for a later date.Services will be held at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC in a celebration of Kathryn's almost 100 years of life. Interment alongside Lars will follow at Arlington National Cemetery. Due to the Covid pandemic, the service will be scheduled for a later date.
Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 30, 2020.