Katharina “Kathy” Chen passed away on September 26, 2023. Kathy was born to Susanna (Gellner) and Michael Gruffner in Birk Romania, an ethnic German community, on August 25, 1943, when the second World War was in full steam. Her family moved to Unter Franken / Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, in 1944, when the Soviet Red Army assaulted from the east. In 1952, when Kathy was eight years old, her family immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored by the Lutheran Church. She grew up in Cleveland, graduated from West High School and the Nursing School of Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital.
Kathy briefly worked as an R.N. in the Department of Medicine. It was there that she met Chihsing “Charlie”, a surgical resident. After two years of courtship, they married in 1965. The couple later moved to Columbia, Missouri and Durham, North Carolina, where her husband pursued further surgical training. In 1969, Kathy and Chihsing settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, where Chihsing started a private surgical practice and Kathy raised their family.
Kathy was a remarkable woman, selflessly devoted to her husband and two children. Both her son, David, and her daughter, Margaret, had significant medical problems, but Kathy’s devotion and complete sacrifice allowed both children to thrive beyond expectation. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Kathy was a nurse in every sense of the word and always tried to heal others. She was extremely patient and the most generous person. She always recognized when someone or something was in need. Kathy also had a deep appreciation of nature and all living things. She was open to all people and cultures. She always stressed the importance of tolerance and acceptance. She rarely expressed her opinions, but when she did, it was with a clear but quiet voice and the issue was important. Just by looking at her, you knew exactly where she stood and where you stood.
Kathy was a vibrant and attractive woman, but she was also a private person, perceptive, and sensitive. She was an excellent judge of character and she never tolerated bad behavior. She loved to read, often preferring mystery novels and spy thrillers over socializing. Contrary to her choice in books, she had a gentle nature and was virtuous.
Kathy was extremely tidy, and on more than one occasion a “clean sweep” to put things away resulted in a FedEx shipment to the person who left an item in a place where it shouldn’t have been. Even as a young child, Kathy completed tasks with meticulous detail. She was a straight A student.
Kathy had many skills, although if you pointed this out to her, she would adamantly deny it. In a last minute pinch, she could sew a band uniform blouse for her daughter or whip up a meal for unexpected house guests. She was an excellent cook and her hospitality was legendary.
Kathy was fun. She had a gentle sense of humor. She was also wonderful with words, perhaps the result of being fluent in two languages. She liked to look up new vocabulary with her daughter. Sometimes the two of them would place bets on who was right regarding a word’s meaning. Kathy almost always won.
While she would never describe herself as athletic, she was strong and had tremendous energy. She loved to walk for miles, even in the rain, and could be found hitting the pavement from Lakeview Square Mall to Willard Library downtown. She also used to play tennis at the Y Center and Minges Creek Racquet Club, as well as at the family home.
When Chihsing retired in 1997, Kathy and her husband bought a home at Mariner Sands Country Club, a gated community in Stuart, Florida, and began to spend winters there. Kathy enjoyed the warm weather, Florida sunshine, and fresh air. She took up golf, and although she wasn’t the best player, she had a decent putt and drive and made many new friends.
Kathy was in remarkably good health right until the end. A sudden unexpected arrhythmia that led to her demise was a shock to all.
Kathy was preceded in death by her son, David, her parents, and her older sister, Susanna Roppelt. She is survived by her husband, Chihsing (Charlie), daughter, Margaret, older sister, Maria Huppert, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. at Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Cremation Preneed Care on Monday October 2, 2023. The service was recorded and may be viewed at https://vimeo.com/871058483. A luncheon to share cherished memories will take place at 12:00 p.m. at the Battle Creek Country Club. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charities or the Battle Creek Community Foundation. Personal messages for the family may be placed here at www.farleyestesdowdle.com.