Kathryn Teffenhardt

Obituary for Kathryn Teffenhardt

August 29, 1936 - December 20, 2020
Ashland, Ohio | Age 84


Kathryn is preceded in death by her husband Mathew, July 15, 2020.
Additionally proceeded in death are: her parents Nicholas and Theresa Thiel of
Los Angeles CA, her sister Theresa Tremmel of Farrel PA., mother-in-law
Anna (Teffenhardt) Moshowoi, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Mary and Robert Tumney, and brother-in-law, Raymond May. Also preceded in death are beloved Grandparents: Apolonia and Alexander Thiel, Johan and Magdelena Tillmann.
Kathryn's parents and grandparents are interred in Los Angeles, California.

Kathryn is survived by three children and their spouses: Linda (James) Morris, Lora (Robert) Custer and Steven (Sharon) Teffenhardt.
Four grandchildren: Eric Morris, Alexander Teffenhardt, Nicole Teffenhardt and John Teffenhardt. She is survived by three sisters-in-law and three brothers-in-law:
Karl Tremmel Sr., Teri May, Ann (Jerry) Sykora, and Laurie (Bill) Ramirez along with many nieces and nephews.

Kathryn was born in Semelzi, Yugoslavia, a small farming village nestled in the flat reclaimed swampland in the bread basket of Europe. The village inhabitants consisted of a large population of ethnic German descendants. Kathryn's ancestral grandparents arrived from the modern Alsace region, as well as the southern two thirds of modern Baden-Württember, Germany in the 1700s.

The German forefathers, who were known as Swabians, migrated southward on barge boats via the Danube (Donau) river toward Eastern Europe. The immigrant population were known as the Donauschwaben. They settled in parts of southeastern Europe between the 17th and 18th centuries in lands emptied by wars from the retreating Ottoman Empire. They were offered land by the Habsburg Empire and encouraged to settle on and drain the flat swamp lands. These industrious people then turned soggy fields into fertile croplands. The small village in which Katie was born is now known as Semeljci, located in the northeast area of modern Croatia.

Kathryn Thiel was born in the former country Yugoslavia just a few years before World War II ravaged the lives of millions of people and made refugees out of centuries-old established villages. As a very young girl, she led a happy life. When she was nearly 5 years old, her parents - by necessity - sought work in another town in Austria. Kathryn was primarily cared for by her grandparents Apolonia and Alex Thiel, so that she would start kindergarten in her hometown. Eventually, the families were forced to leave Yugoslavia during wartime conditions and relocated to Graz, Austria.

In 1950, the Thiel family was sponsored by relatives to immigrate to America and then the Cleveland area. At the age of 13, Kathryn, her younger sister Theresa and their parents Nick and Theresa journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Elizabeth passenger ship. When they arrived at the docks in New York City, they were met by a distant cousin, Alex Thiel of Cleveland. The language barrier presented a challenge. The family started the journey to Cleveland believing Alex was an arranged taxi driver. Confusion ensued when they stopped for the night in Pennsylvania and Alex booked a single motel room. "What kind of a taxi driver is this that wants to stay with us overnight?" the family wondered. Somehow they figured it all out, after which there was laughter and a celebration. Finally, they were greeting a relative!

Katie eagerly started high school at Lincoln West and learned English. She graduated high school and worked at Higbees department store in downtown Cleveland. A friend encouraged her to apply for a job at Cleveland Trust bank. In the early 1950s she worked in the payroll department at the bank. The family eventually settled in North Royalton, Ohio, in a modest home predominantly built by Nick and Theresa.

Katie and Matt met on a double date that was arranged by Matt's cousin Steve Pfeiffer and his fiancé Mary Havasi. Several years later on June 16, 1956,
Kathryn Thiel married Mathew J. Teffenhardt. They were married 64 years.

Married life with husband Matt started in a three family home on Clark Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Her mother-in-law Anna and three younger sisters-in-law lived in a forward apartment, while Katie and Matt lived in the rear apartment and they rented the upstairs apartment to another family.

In mid 1959, Kathryn and her husband Mathew became naturalized citizens of the United States. They were proud to become American citizens. The country offered employment, and with their hard work and perseverance, they had the opportunity to buy their own home on the west side of Cleveland.

Katie and Matt often dreamed of buying property to enjoy on the weekends. They imagined land in the countryside with woods and a stream. After years of searching as far away as Canada, they and their two young daughters toured a property in
Ashland, Ohio, on Easter Day, 1967. It had woods and a creek. A dam and culvert over the creek was a relic from a long ago train trolley track that crossed the property and neatly divided the front and back woods. Soon after, they purchased the property. The following year, Matt built a small one room cabin. The cabin was rustic, and a wood burning stove heated the cabin in cool weather. They discovered a natural spring on the land and installed a very small underground cistern. The water flowed perpetually from a spout and could be collected. This water was lab tested and suitable to drink. So, filling a jug and carrying water to the cabin was the first task of each camping weekend. However, no rustic cabin is complete without an outhouse. Matt built that too, adorned with a crescent moon carved at the top of the door. This was primitive camping at its finest. A one acre pond was built about a year later. Katie and Matt planted 100 pine tree seedlings around the pond that was stocked with bass and bluegill. Fishing was a wonderful pastime during picnic gatherings with family and friends. Many weekends were enjoyed at the cabin beside the stream.

A few years later, additional property was acquired across the road and adjacent to the initial land: an old farm house and 10 additional acres. Sheep, chickens and rabbits were added to the menagerie. Bird feeders attracted an abundance of birds to watch.

In the late 1970s, Katie studied many house blueprints and designed the home that she and Matt would build in Ashland. She took on the responsibility of being general contractor for the construction while Matt would work many overtime hours at Ford Motor Company in Brookpark, Ohio. She was often out at the build site, coordinating the contractors and Amish laborers, arranging permits that were needed and monitoring the overall progress of the project. They then moved from Cleveland to Ashland in 1980, into their self-built dream home in the countryside. Daughters Linda and Lori continued to work in Cleveland while living in the family home. Her son Steve started seventh grade in Ashland city schools.

Katie and Matt loved trees, flowers and gardens. They planted fruit trees: apples, cherries, pears and European prune plums. An enjoyable springtime activity was to visit garden nurseries and plan a bountiful kitchen garden. Some years, Katie would start seedlings of various plants in spring. Red heirloom peppers obtained from the old country were a favorite. She enthusiastically offered the mild, thick-fleshed red peppers to everyone. She maintained beautiful perennial flower gardens as well. Garden plants that grew too large were divided and gifted to friends and family. An assortment of plants live on in the gardens of her children. The bounty of her vegetable gardens were readily shared with loved ones. It was not unusual for the trunk of their car to be a veritable farmer's market complete with delivery to those they were visiting.

Katie enjoyed watching many cooking shows throughout the years, beginning with Julia Child in the 1960s. She gathered recipes and had an extensive collection. Some were handwritten from her mother; others were her own and many were from newspaper and article clippings. The recipes ranged from "EZ Taco salad" clipped from the TV Guide to her mother's Fluffo Strudel and grandma's Chicken Soup.

Katie would forage on their property for plants with health and healing properties. Linden tree blossoms were dried for tea to soothe a cold or sore throat. Tea made from dried dandelion roots were a natural diuretic. She was able to convince her 14 year-old
son Steve, that cooked, stinging nettles are incredibly nutritious to eat. Knowledgeable about herbs and plants, she combined modern thinking with old-world common sense about nutrition; Katie and Matt ate delicious, healthy meals often prepared from their homegrown produce.

As active parishioners at St Edwards Church in Ashland, Ohio, Kathryn volunteered to prepare side dishes and casseroles for funeral luncheons and offered baked goods for Bingo Night fundraisers. She enjoyed socializing with fellow church members and prayed for family and friends.

Katie enjoyed fellowship with the Milton Township Neighbors group and served for a while as Vice President of the club. She very much enjoyed the monthly luncheons held at each other's homes. The neighbors frequently planned group outings to interesting locations around the state.

In earlier years, while living in Cleveland, she was active with the Sachsenheim German American Club, where daughter Linda played guitar with the "Accordion band". Katie and Matt continued to attend events at the Donauschwaben German-American Cultural Center in North Olmsted while living in Ashland.

Travel was a lifelong interest as well. Car, plane, and train trips to visit parents, grandparents and cousins in California occurred as often as possible. Katie once traveled with daughters Linda and Lori on Amtrak from Cleveland to California, when Lori was still a very young toddler. Years later, when Lori was a young adult, mother and daughter enjoyed a train trip to Los Angeles. Katie and Matt traveled together to Europe on several trips to visit relatives in various countries. They especially enjoyed several river cruises they took along the Danube and Rhein rivers. A few ocean cruises were also enjoyed with close friends.

Katie was happy to surf the internet and eagerly watched gardening, travel, cooking
and health related videos on YouTube. She kept in touch with family and friends through email, messages and Facebook as well as telephone calls. Recently, she was devoted to Dr. Berg videos for recommendations about good health and explanations about simple ailments.

Katie was always interested in maintaining good health, to improve symptoms and investigate solutions to health problems. She worked closely with her physicians. In a very unexpected development, just after moving to Strongsville, she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer disease. She entered Hospice care and died within the week of her cancer diagnosis. Linda, Lori and Steve are very grateful for the excellent care provided at Generations Assisted Living in Strongsville and Cypress Hospice of Berea, Ohio.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the excellent caring staff who empathetically went above and beyond in providing care to our beloved Mother.

A private, family inurnment will take place at Riverside Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
A Catholic Mass and Celebration of Life memorial will be held for both Mathew and Kathryn at St. Edward Catholic Church, 501 Cottage Street, Ashland, OH 44805 on Saturday, August 7th at 1PM.
To view online www.tinyurl.com/MrMrsTeff at exactly 12:59PM.
Arrangements entrusted to
Busch Babbit Funeral Home
North Royalton, Ohio
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