Garden City lost a piece of its heart Sunday when local humanitarian Katherine Hart died.
Hart was 95.
Hart, a longtime Garden City resident, was born in Seattle and moved to Garden City with her family when she was young.
She graduated from Garden City High School in 1942 and attended Garden City Community College and the University of Colorado, where she graduated cum laude in 1946 with a degree in business administration.
In 1946 she married Dean Hart, to whom she was married for 48 years until his death in 1994.
The couple had four daughters, Caverly Hart, Julia Peterson, Ruth Spiker and Mary Karlin.
Hart worked for Henkle Drilling Co. from 1967 to 1978, when she became the administrative trustee and secretary for the Finnup Foundation Trust.
She actively worked until she was 87.
Besides working with the Finnup Foundation, Hart was involved in many civic organizations and committees, including The Salvation Army, from which she received their highest award, the William Booth Award; Finney County Historical Society; and the St. Catherine’s Hospital Foundation Board.
Jeremy Gigot, director of the Garden City Community College Endowment Association, said Hart was instrumental in making Garden City and Finney County a wonderful area to live.
“People need to realize what a tremendous advocate she was for Garden City,” he said. “Her life and career was about advancing the community ... She was involved in so many things with the Finnup Foundation and in her personal life ... she is directly responsible for the quality of live in our community.”
She had a passion for the community and a passion for helping people, said Amy Heinemann, of the Finnup Foundation.
“She had a beautiful spirit, compassion, had a strong work ethic, wisdom and she knew business,” she said. “She was a very special lady but also had a heart of compassion for people that were hurting or suffering and figuring out how she could help.”
Heinemann met Hart when she began with the Finnup Foundation in 2010. Hart was still an active member and was Heinemann’s mentor for a year.
It is a time Heinemann will never forget.
“We talked about business, family, history, faith, community and many other topics,” she said. "She taught me that a relationship is a beautiful part of work and sharing yourself as well as your talents, creates a special bond of trust and appreciation of each other, allowing for a joyful synergy in the pursuit of excellence.”
Gigot said he will always remember Hart as someone who cared for others.
“She was always upbeat and positive,” he said. “When talking with her she was always smiling, and she took in everything you said — she always wanted to know where you were personally and professionally ... she made everybody feel special, it’s just how she was.”
Jessica Norton, director of the Friends of the Lee Richardson Zoo, said Hart was an inspiration to her.
“It’s an inspiration to me to see someone who is successful and committed and driven like (Hart was),” she said. “I’m kind of in awe of her because she was this figure who has done so much ... she was an amazing person and I hope to live up to those standards. We lost a great person on Sunday.”
Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society and Museum, agreed that Hart was a great person and will be greatly missed.
Quakenbush said what he’ll always remember how supportive she was of "any event or program or organization or activity that helped enhance life and make things better for people in the community,” he said. “Katherine had a long legacy of administering and serving ... she has had a big impact in the community.”
Gigot said Hart was just a wonderful person all around.
“She was just a really smart, witty, charming lady ... and (her death) is a tremendous loss for the community,” he said. “She loved the people and loved this community.”