Kathi Nine's life was a wish fulfilled.
Mrs. Nine, 38, died Monday of cancer at her Perry Hall home. After a cancer diagnosis in 1996, the school bus driver spent the past two years fulfilling a string of lifelong desires -- including steering a firetruck, sky diving and traveling to Las Vegas.
"She wanted to give a lot of things a try," said her sister, Michaeleen Rhoten of Perry Hall. "She was adventurous and liked doing a variety of things."
Last fall, she went sky diving in Ocean City and tooled around the grounds of Baltimore County's Towson fire station in a firetruck, steering the tail end of a hook-and-ladder truck and attired in a yellow firefighter's jacket and helmet.
"I feel like I've really been to the fire. I'm a fireman now," she said afterward during an interview with The Sun. "How many people do you know who have done all they wanted to? Kathi Nine has."
Mrs. Nine seldom complained of her illness, even as the cancer spread from her lungs to her brain.
"She just kept going," her sister said. "She thought she was going to be cured. She never had a negative thought about it."
A Baltimore native who grew up in Middle River, the former Kathleen Markowski attended Overlea High and later earned her high school equivalency. She held several jobs before becoming a full-time school bus driver in 1993.
And a distinctive bus driver she was.
She regularly doled out candy to the youngsters on Fridays, led sing-alongs and dressed as a clown (for Halloween), a bunny (for Easter) and Santa Claus.
"Everyone loved her because she cared about the children and made all of them feel comfortable," said Linda Wise, whose daughter attends White Oak Elementary School and rode Mrs. Nine's bus.
Mrs. Nine drove in northeastern Baltimore County, with routes that also included Villa Cresta and Oakleigh elementaries. Illness forced her to retire in 1997.
Services were held Thursday. Her yellow bus, No. 4333, was included in the procession.
In addition to her sister, Mrs. Nine is survived by her husband, John Nine of Middle River; her parents, Kathleen Flynn and Theodore Markowski of Middle River; a brother, James Markowski of Middle River; and three other sisters, Veronica Brokas of Edgewood, Patricia Greico of Middle River and Barbara Jones of Perry Hall.
Pub Date: 1/31/99