Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

How it Feels to be 103

"Set aside a certain amount for the future..."
 Kathryn N. Klotsch


"How does it feel to be one hundred and three?" Well, Mrs. Kathryn Nicolett Klotsch is still two and one half months shy of her birthday, so one would need to get back with her in December. However, she can share a lot about life based on her 102 years of experience.

Born on December 26, 1899, Kathryn Stephanie Nicolett grew up loving children and knowing she would one day be a teacher. In 1918, after graduating from McAlester High School, she began taking summer classes towards her education degree at University of Central Oklahoma. In the fall of ‘18, she was hired as a first and second grade teacher in Bache. She was 18 years old, had 60 students in her classroom, and was making about $75 a month.

She went on to teach at Manning, Alderson, and McAlester. In the summers, she continued her degree and finished at University of Oklahoma. Summer school lasted through July. Each August, she and a group of friends would "vacation till the money ran out." She tells of the summer of ‘33 when they traveled all through New England, Canada, and concluded their trip in Chicago at the World’s Fair. During the trip they spent a week in Manhattan and paid $1.50 per night for a hotel room.

In 1932, Kathryn moved to Kingman, Arizona, with some family friends. She lived in the private quarters of the family’s motel and set out to look for a teaching job. In speaking with the superintendent, she was told there was only one vacancy.

There were three girls who had applied for the job and because of the Depression, they were giving preference to Ariz. teachers. He asked her to substitute for another class for the first week of school and when the week was up, she was offered a fifth and sixth grade position. At the time there was a rule in place stating that teachers in Arizona must remain single. This particular teacher broke the rule, and in turn, Kathryn benefited.

The motel eventually closed and Kathryn rented a room from a local rancher. It was a huge house with several tenants in addition to the rancher’s family. In 1935, a room vacancy at the house was filled with a man named William Klotsch from Wisconsin. He was a handsome Navy veteran who had moved to Arizona to join his father in the mines. When Kathryn saw him she was intrigued and she went to the rancher’s wife to ask if he was eligible. He, too, had never been married. Each night when he came in from working, Kathryn sat knitting. Finally one night he asked her, "Is that all you do?" She responded, "Do you know of anything better?" He did. From then on he invited her to run errands with him and after about three times of being turned down for dinner, she accepted his invitation. On June 26, 1937, they were married at First Baptist, Oklahoma City. She was 37 and he was 47.

Kathryn continued teaching and William managed a general store. From day one of their marriage they decided they would be faithful stewards and live on only his salary. Every dime of her teaching salary was saved, and later invested.

In 1962, she retired from teaching after 53 years, and they moved to Mesa, Ariz. and bought a nice home in a retirement village. They enjoyed 47 years of marriage together before William passed away in 1986. "We never really quarreled. We agreed we would never go to sleep angry," said Kathryn. "I couldn’t have asked for a better companion."

Her advice to young people on marriage? "Be sure you get the right person. Make a commitment to them and stick with them."

Kathryn continued to save and invest after her husband’s death. She has generously given to others in many ways, primarily through The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma with an Oklahoma Baptist University scholarship fund, an Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children scholarship fund, and an endowment trust benefiting OBHC.

Her advice on finances? "Set aside a certain amount for the future and don’t live beyond your means." She also added, "Those credit cards are bad things. We never charged. If we couldn’t pay cash, we didn’t buy it."

Kathryn’s secret to a long and healthy life is an 8 a.m. walk every morning for 15 minutes and taking daily vitamins. She feels very fortunate because although she can’t do everything she used to be able to do, "I can do a lot more than most my age."

For Kathryn Klotsch, a lifetime of happiness is a matter of choice. "Think things over before fretting and jumping to conclusions," said Kathryn. "I have always tried to make the best of the situation."

"Set aside a certain amount for the future…" - Kathryn N. Klotsch

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