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Katherine Hirschmann, 87

May 15, 2017

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Katherine "Kitty" Hirschmann died peacefully and comfortably with family and friends and caregivers visiting her and at her side on Monday, May 15, 2017, at her home at Aston Gardens in Naples, Fla. She lived at Aston Gardens for the past 14 years. Prior to that, she lived in The Glades in Naples, Fla., in Pittsfield, Mass., Davenport, Iowa, and Salem, Va.

Kitty was born September 17, 1929, in Salem, Va., to French Texas Copenhaver and Louise Moeschler Copenhaver. She had one sister, Evelyn, whom she loved dearly. Prior to Evelyn's dying from ALS, Kitty and Evelyn spent a very special vacation together exploring the coast of Maine. It was a time spent together that Kitty talked about for years to come.

Kitty graduated from Salem High School and Averett College in Virginia. Over the years, she worked as the secretary in the x-ray department of what was then Hillcrest Hospital in Pittsfield, Mass., and then as an EKG technician and head of the EKG department. She also helped manage the business records for her first and second husbands.

Kitty always looked for ways to help and support others, especially her children. She supported her first son, David, with his work with Angel Flight and in his role as one of the founders and board members of the Museum of Surveying. She helped her second son, Richard, with his work at the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Clinic through donations, fundraising as the "Mom's Club" founder, and endless hours spent sorting medications and other clinic supplies when she would go to visit in New Hampshire.

During her years in Florida, Kitty volunteered at Aston Gardens as the editor of the residents' newsletter, The Tattletale, managing the residents' library sorting donations and organizing the shelves, leading a book discussion group, playing bridge with friends, and countless other activities to do whatever she could to help the staff and residents. She also volunteered at the Naples Public Library, the Collier County Museum and at the Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples, an agency that she cared deeply about, that provides health care programs and services to people in need.

Kitty married the first love of her life, Robert Ingram, in 1949; he died much too soon in 1967 at the age of 40. In 1975, Kitty married her second love, Kurt Hirschmann, who died in 1992. And even though she said that she was "done with men," in 1992, she met the third love of her life, Lewis "Bud" Dingledine, after she moved to Aston Gardens.

Kitty and Bud spent several years together enjoying breakfast on the balcony of her apartment of Building 2, waving to and greeting all of the morning passers-by, attending concerts and listening to music together, riding in his red Mustang convertible with the top down and wearing their matching red hats, helping others in countless ways, and running their Tuesday night Bistro at Aston Gardens where residents could enjoy music, wine, snacks, and dancing. Kitty and Bud loved to dance and listen to music, and sharing that joy with others. Bud died in 2013.

Kitty has two sons from her first marriage, David Ingram and Richard Ingram. David and his wife, Regina "Jean" Ingram, live in Mount Crawford, Va. They have a daughter, Amanda Ingram, and her husband, Mark Elrod, who live in Crawfordsville, Ind. Richard and his wife, Gail Tulipani, live in Hudson, N.H., with their cats.

In addition to her two sons, Kitty has three nieces and nephews, Virginia Louise "Ginny Lou" Collins and her husband Michael Collins of Green Cove Springs, Fla.; Gary Brown and his wife Cindy Brown of Indianapolis, Ind.; and Katherine "Kitty" Drury and her husband David Drury of Rocky Hill, Conn. (soon to be living in North Carolina). Kitty1 and Kitty2 have always had an especially close and loving relationship over the years, visiting and traveling together as often as possible.

Kitty's "family" also included many other people who shared much of their lives with her, and there are far too many to list. However, the sons want to especially thank Ann Neubert, King Francis and Matt Pictrowski for being so important to Kitty throughout her life, and for their love and devotion to her.

Bud Dingledine's daughter, Vanessa Castagna, became another member of the Kitty family, and whenever she visited Naples, Vanessa made it a point to visit Kitty and share fond memories and stories together. She and Kitty shared a special man in their lives, and that brought the two of them close.

David and Richard would like to extend a special thanks to the staff at Aston Gardens who loved and cared for Kitty for the many years she lived there, and to the residents who always had a greeting, a hug and a kiss, and a smile for her whenever they saw her. It might have been in the bar at 4 with her friends having a drink, in the dining room at dinner, walking the halls, sitting outside on nice days, watching M.A.S.H and her other favorite shows in the evening with her friend Ruth, or most anywhere else at Aston Gardens.

The sons also want to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the staff and caregivers at Discovery At Home, Just Like Family, and Avow for the love and care given to Kitty during the final months of her life. A special acknowledgment is extended to Penny Appezzato for her genuine love for Kitty, for the care and compassion she shared, and her ability to connect with Kitty in so many personal and intimate ways.

In addition, Kitty had the opportunity to get to know and share a great deal of special time with Angela Howat, the founder and volunteer of the Friend-to-Friend program at Aston Gardens. Angela is an angel, and even though she describes herself and her time spent with others as selfish, she is a very special, giving person. She and Kitty became good friends, and Angela will always be a part of Kitty’s family.

Everyone involved in Kitty’s care made it possible for her to stay at home, to receive all of the support and care she needed, and to be with those she loves and who love her. Her sons will always consider Aston Gardens to be the best home and family Kitty could ever have asked for.

Funeral notice: There will be no calling hours or service. A gathering of staff, residents, and friends to celebrate Kitty's life will be held at Aston Gardens in the ballroom. Anyone interested in making a donation in memory of Katherine Hirschmann can do so to the organization of your choosing; or to the Aston Gardens Employee Appreciation Fund, c/o Aston Gardens at Pelican Marsh, 4800 Aston Gardens Way, Naples, FL 34109; or to the Neighborhood Health Clinic, 121 N. Goodlette Frank Road, Naples, FL 34102; or to the Cupola Fund, First Baptist Church, 88 South Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201.


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