10/20/1922 - 06/04/2020
Kathryn C. "Kitty" Hach, a business woman and pilot at a time when women were hardly ever either, passed away peacefully in Loveland, Colorado, on June 4th at the age of 97.
Kitty was born in 1922 in Bucklin, Missouri, the beloved only child of a Ford car salesman and teacher. After the Great Depression hit, the family struggled, eventually moving to start a family farm. Kitty was devastated when her aviation enthusiast father had to sell his prized airplane and she was determined to someday own her own plane. She was just as determined to go to college, even raising turkeys (which she called "crazy") to pay her tuition.
After transferring to Iowa State University, Kitty met Clifford Hach, an aspiring chemist. Cliff gifted Kitty a copy of Otto Eisenschiml's "Without Fame: The Romance of a Profession," about the founding of the Sun Chemical Company, which Dr. Eisenschiml built alongside his wife. Kitty sensed the book was a left-hand marriage proposal. "And by golly, I was right!"
From modest means, Cliff and Kitty founded the Hach Company in 1947. Cliff was the scientific brain, Kitty the natural entrepreneur. Their marriage was an alchemy of science and business, and they could not exist without the other. Cliff led research, Kitty led sales and marketing. The couple lived in an apartment attached to the business itself and along the way, managed to bring three children into the fold: Mary, Bruce and Paul.
When Cliff Hach developed a simplified titration test to measure water hardness, Kitty sent out sales information mailings about Hach products. The orders quickly started rolling in, and Kitty is heralded as inventing the modern-day direct mail-order marketing in the water analysis industry.
In 1966, Hach Co. had its first million dollar year. In 1977, with the passage of the Clean Water Act, sales increased and the headquarters were moved from Ames, Iowa, to Loveland, Colorado. The new plant was selected in part because it was near a local airport.
Kitty flew throughout her career, racking up 7,000 air miles and at age 65 acquired her license to pilot a jet. Flying was her passion and she was never more happy than floating through the clouds behind the wheel of an airplane.
Kitty's buoyant personality lubricated the business, and she was quick to smile and treated all with kindness. In 1990, Cliff passed suddenly, Kitty became CEO and Hach was the largest woman-operated business in the state of Colorado. Kitty ran Hach alongside her son Bruce. In 1999, Danaher Corporation purchased Hach and today, several other companies under the Danaher umbrella proudly bear the moniker Hach, as it is synonymous with quality in the water analysis field. Hach employees thousands of employees across the globe.
Kitty was the founding member of the committee of 200 Executive Women and a member of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of licensed women pilots. She was the first woman director of the American Water Works Association, first woman to serve on the board at Loveland's First National Bank, and was awarded 1993's Colorado Woman of the Year by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce.
In 1982, the Hach family founded the Hach Scientific Foundation to promote chemistry education through scholarships. It was run by her grandson Bryce and son Bruce with the mission of encouraging chemists to become teachers. From 2005 to 2007, the Hach Scientific Foundation provided grants to scholars. In 2009, the foundation gave a generous gift to the American Chemical Society to endow the ACS-Hach Programs. ACS dedicated its headquarter building in Washington, D.C. as the Clifford and Kathryn C. Hach Building, right around the corner from the White House.
In 2010, Kitty also endowed the construction of Hach Hall, a state-of-the-art chemistry building on the Iowa State campus where proud portraits of Cliff and Kitty both hang.
In 1995, Kitty married retired pilot Donald Darrow, becoming Kitty Hach-Darrow. They lived mostly outside of Seattle and adored discussing all things aviation.
She is survived by three children, 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. In lieu of the pandemic, a memorial service will be forthcoming. Please consult Resthaven Funeral Home https://www.dignitymemorial.com/funeral-homes/ft-collins-co/resthaven-funeral-home/8254
for updated information regarding an upcoming celebration of life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Clifford and Kathryn Hach's Memorial Garden through Adams Bank and Trust in Fort Collins or Pathways Hospice.
As a young girl, Kitty Lou would crawl into her father's airplane, outfitted in helmet and goggles, to sleep in the cockpit. Kitty is certain heaven exists and that an airplane is awaiting her.