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Katherine W. 'Kathy' Bredbenner, an occupational therapist and longtime Meals on Wheels and church volunteer

Katherine W., an occupational therapist who was active in Meals on Wheels and Towson presbyterian Church, died Sept. 22.
Katherine W., an occupational therapist who was active in Meals on Wheels and Towson presbyterian Church, died Sept. 22. (HANDOUT)

Katherine W. "Kathy" Bredbenner, a former occupational therapist who was a longtime volunteer at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland and Towson Presbyterian Church, died Sept. 22 of septic shock at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown.

The West Towson resident was 75.

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"She was a great person. She was a wonderful, devoted volunteer at Meals on Wheels and Towson Presbyterian Church. She was into everything," said Nancy B. Allchin of Cockeysville, a friend of nearly 50 years.

The daughter of Matthew T. White, a poultry processing plant manager, and Erma Rhea Reed White, a homemaker, Katherine Elizabeth White was born in Topeka, Kan. She later moved with her family to Harrisonburg, Va., where she was a member of the White Family Marionettes.

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After graduating in 1960 from Harrisonburg High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1964 from the University of Richmond, and took additional courses at Virginia Commonwealth University that prepared her for a carer as an occupational therapist.

She moved to Baltimore and worked as an occupational therapist for the Children's Rehabilitation Institute, which later became affiliated with the Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

She met and fell in love with Lee P. Bredbenner, a partner in a construction company, whom she met at Towson Presbyterian Church.

They married in 1968, and two years later she stopped working as an occupational therapist to raise the couple's three sons.

Mrs. Bredbenner was a few months shy of celebrating her 50-year membership at Towson Presbyterian, where she edited and produced the church newsletter for 14 years.

"She made sure that church bulletin got mailed on time for years," Mrs. Allchin said.

For years, she coordinated the after-church Sunday coffee hour and chaired the annual Strawberry Festival. She joined other church volunteers who prepared and served meals to the needy at Sarah's Hope Family Shelter in West Baltimore.

Mrs. Bredbenner, a layperson, had been trained as a Stephen Minister, working with people who were experiencing grief, divorce or job loss or facing a terminal illness. She also served a term on her church's board of deacons.

"I knew her through church, and we just hit it off. I guess I've known her 40-plus years. She was just a lovely, lovely lady," said Ellen Barnhart of Towson, who is also a member of Towson Presbyterian.

"She was very active at church, and everyone knew her. She was the connective tissue and the glue, and this is coming from a former nurse. She was the person you went to when you needed church news," Mrs. Barnhart said.

"She was quiet and simple in a non-bossy way," she said. "She was a warm person who quietly did many, many things."

In addition to her church work, Mrs. Bredbenner volunteered for 30 years, beginning in the 1970s and continuing into the late 1990s, with Meals on Wheels. For 14 years, she had a Sunday night ritual where she was on the phone lining up 60 to 80 drivers and visitors who would deliver meals from the organization's Towson kitchen site during the week.

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"Many were scheduled regulars, but substitutes were always needed," wrote her husband, who retired from the Johns Hopkins University, where he worked in facilities management.

"When she was short a volunteer spot, she would go herself, usually enlisting her husband or one of her sons, who still fondly remember going on Meals on Wheels with Mom and count it as a valuable lesson in learning about caring for others," he wrote.

"Kathy had a great organizational skills, and she carried them out in a nice way," Mrs. Allchin said. "She was very kind, calm and always soft-spoken."

After stepping down as volunteer coordinator, Mrs. Bredbenner began delivering meals and visiting clients herself. For her volunteerism, she was awarded a 30-year pin and the Ernestine McCollum Award as Central Maryland's outstanding volunteer.

She was also a member for 35 years of Marriage Encounter.

"It is a national organization where couples share about maintaining a strong marriage. We didn't meet in a church, but rather members' homes," her husband said.

Mrs. Bredbenner embraced a spirit of adventure, whether it was water skiing on the Magothy River, hiking in national parks or earning her license to be her husband's backup pilot in their four-seater Cessna 172.

"She quietly decided to end her flying career after we became engulfed in a frightening cloud layer and heavy rain over New Jersey as we returned from a college reunion in Provincetown, Mass.," her husband wrote.

The couple also enjoyed touring the lower 48 states and all of the Canadian provinces and territories — with the exception of Nunavut, which can only be reached by plane or boat — in their 34-foot motor home.

She also traveled to Europe,the Holy Land and Greece with a group from her church.

A longtime resident of Piccadilly Road in West Towson, Mrs. Bredbenner enjoyed reading to her grandchildren.

She also liked working on family genealogy and designed a family tree that included her husband's lineage dating to the Revolutionary War and a Hessian soldier, a mercenary who came to America to fight for the British.

Services for Mrs. Bredbenner will be held at noon Saturday at her church, 400 Chesapeake Ave, Towson.

In addition to her husband of 49 years, she is survived by three sons, Todd L. Bredbenner of Colorado Springs, Jay P. Bredbenner of Richmond, Va., and Dan W. Bredbenner of Triangle, Va.; two brothers, Toby White of Greenwood, S.C., and the Rev. George White of Topeka; and seven grandchildren.

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