Swarthout, Kathryn Blair
passed away from the maladies of old age on the evening of April 3rd, 2015, in her townhome in Scottsdale, Arizona, at age 96. Kathryn was born January 8, 1919, in Columbus, Montana, to Lige Hood and Lona Blair Vaughn. Under her pen name, Kate Swarthout, she was a columnist for Woman's Day magazine for 26 years. With her late husband, Glendon, an internationally-known novelist who died in 1992, Kathryn co-wrote six novellas for young adults, the best-known of which was reprinted by three different publishers over the decades (Random House, Alfred Knopf, and Northland Publishing in Flagstaff). Whichaway is a Western about a 16-year-old boy stranded atop a windmill tower during the Great Depression on an Arizona ranch, with two broken ankles. The story tells how he survives over several long days and nights without water and with various passers-by trying to kill him, before figuring out how to get down barely alive, with the assistance of his trained horse. Publisher's Weekly said of Whichaway that "it took only two pages for this teenage survival story to jump the hurdles and be off and running -- and never stop until its triumphant finish...This is one of the rare ones." (available as an EBook on Kindle). Mrs. Swarthout received a Certificate of Merit in Literature from the National Society of Arts and Letters for her writing. Together, Kathryn and Glendon established the Swarthout Writing Awards for young writers at Arizona State University in 1962, which gives significant cash prizes for poetry and short fiction every April through the Creative Writing/English department on the Tempe campus. The 2015 writing awards ceremony will be held at the Faculty Club on campus on this Tuesday evening, April 21st. Kathryn was a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority at the University of Michigan. She belonged to the League of Women Voters, her Paradise Valley book club, and the Oasis Volunteer Group as a reading and writing tutor for slow-learning elementary students. The Western Writers of America also honored Kathryn with their Branding Iron Award in June, 2010, at their Oklahoma City convention for her 35 years of serviceto that literary organization. Kathryn Swarthout leaves behind her Western novelist son, Miles, her sister-in-law Margaret Vaughn, her sisters Billie Johnson (Stephen) and Janyth Sheldon, plus nieces and nephews. There will be a reception in Scottsdale later in May. Memorial donations my be made to the ASU Foundation for the benefit of the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Creative Writing Endowment, P.O. Box 2260, Tempe, Arizona 85280-2260.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 19, 2015.