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Remembering Kathy Jenkins of Redding, CA

Former member of American Trails staff passed away July 24, 2007.

See an article and photo in the Redding Searchlight Record

photo of Kathy Jenkins

Kathy Jenkins


Kathryn Marie Jenkins, who dedicated many years of wide-ranging volunteer work to the revitalization of downtown Redding and to the performing and visual arts throughout the Redding community, passed away unexpectedly on July 24 of a pulmonary embolism. She was 55.

Kathy's activities were myriad, and, although she preferred to work behind the scenes when possible, the marks she left on Redding, both tangible and intangible, are many.

Kathy was a charter member of the Shasta County Women's Refuge in 1979, and later served several years as president of the board. She was a relentless fundraiser for the shelter, once famously attending an event wearing a bag on her head to dramatize the plight of battered women, and, in 1988, when the State threatened to reduce its funding of the shelter, appeared before and spoke with others in a successful appeal to the Office of Criminal Justice in Sacramento. In 1988, Kathy also originated and chaired the first of the Refuge's Crab Feed fundraisers, now a major annual fundraising event.

In 1993, she was the founding treasurer of the Redding Symphony League, an organization that supported the orchestra, now called the North State Symphony, through fundraising events. In three years with the League, she helped organize symphony balls, a Western barbecue, a Maypole party, and receptions after each orchestra performance. "Kathy was not just the League's treasurer, she was part of its soul," said a fellow League founder. "And she participated as a volunteer with the League as she embraced all her community service: Full steam ahead!"

Kathy next directed that energy towards Redding's downtown, helping in the creation in 1995 of MarketFest, the weekly combination of farmer's market, arts and crafts, live music, food, and other activities now considered the city's top community event. After MarketFest evolved into Viva Downtown, Kathy continued to serve on the board for a number of years, focusing during that time on the development of Library Park, the Cascade Theater, Riverfront Playhouse, and the placement of art in public places. She was particularly proud of the Monolith, the art installation/museum designed by Buster Simpson in the ruins of the Kutras Tract Aggregate Plant in Turtle Bay, which she championed. "It was the good fortune of the community and especially Viva Downtown Redding that Kathy made downtown one of her passions," said a Viva Downtown board member. "Kathy distinguished herself during her time as a board member. She worked tirelessly, asked the tough questions, and led by example. Kathy left no stone unturned." In May, at the annual State of Downtown ceremony, Viva Downtown named Kathy, "Outstanding Volunteer of the Year &endash; 2007".

In 1996, she helped form Renaissance Redding, a volunteer group dedicated to community enhancement and the beautification of the city. During her time on the board, the organization's activities ranged from the creation of the original Christmas decorations that evolved into what is now an annual custom downtown, to the sale of 3,000 red bricks inscribed with purchasers' names or personal messages. The bricks were used to line the pathways through Library Park and the nearly $50,000 raised through their sale was donated to support the redesign of Library Park and Downtown improvements. In just a few of her many other efforts with Renaissance Redding, she helped coordinate a fundraiser to benefit Fantasy Fountain as well as a rummage sale that sprawled across much of the downtown mall and the infamous "Hard Hat Party", both benefiting the restoration of the Cascade Theatre. Other activities included involvement at the opening of the Sundial Bridge, Turtle Bay's wine tastings, the Shasta County Arts Council's Annual Cultural Cruise, and most recently, the passing of the books for the opening of the new Redding Library. One of Kathy's favorite events was the annual Renaissance Redding High Tea, which over the years has benefited many causes important to her and Renaissance Redding. "Kathy was downtown Redding's most passionate cheerleader," said a fellow founder. "She worked tirelessly to support the group's mission of downtown revitalization, cultural enhancement, and beautification."

Under contract with the City of Redding, Kathy helped plan the National Trails Symposium that was held in Redding in 2000. When the sponsoring organization, American Trails, which promotes trails nationwide, moved to Redding in 2002, Kathy joined the staff, staying on for three years.

Kathy was also active in the Shasta County Arts Council and was a past member of the Shasta County Cattlewomen's Association.

Professionally, after serving many years as the County Marshall's Assistant of Civil Affairs, Kathy established Imagic Publishing, a self-owned graphic arts business. Her services were used by a wide range of businesses and organizations throughout the area. Characteristically, she devoted a large portion of her working hours to pro bono projects, designing, for example, the plaques and banners that line the River Trail.

In private life, Kathy was known for her devotion to family and friends, being the rare person able to keep relationships strong despite the separation of distance and the passage of time. She doted on friends' children, becoming unofficial aunt to many of them, and she gallantly and unstintingly supported those in need, as when she flew to Detroit to nurse a high school friend who, estranged from family during his final weeks, as he was dying of AIDS in the 1980's. Hurricane Katrina also hit close to home for Kathy. A close friend's home was flooded and therefore, Kathy felt her calling to help however she could. Hence, a trip to New Orleans where she and her husband, Greg worked diligently through their Thanksgiving holiday to replace all the drywall throughout their home.

Her home entertaining was known for its flair and generosity, a style that emerged early on. "Parties were her forte!" wrote a friend who was an undergraduate with Kathy in the 1970's. "Her annual Thanksgiving feast was something she was well known for amongst the "homeless" students during the holidays." She was also famous for being the instigator of many surprise parties for friends and family.

Kathy loved music. She trained seriously as a pianist through her high school years, when she also sang in the church and school choirs. As an adult, her tastes were eclectic, ranging from classical to jazz to world music. These passions were reflected in her support of the symphony orchestra, her regular trips to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and her collection of unusual musical instruments.

She also collected postcards, constantly imploring friends and family to send her mail from throughout the United States and overseas, decorated her home extravagantly for Christmas, and always owned at least one cat if not several plus a pair of dogs.

Kathryn Marie Jenkins was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1951 and was raised in Ferndale, Michigan, by her parents, William R. and Frances Y. Jenkins. She attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1970-74. After college, she moved to Savannah, Georgia. She lived there until 1978, working in the restaurant business, and then relocated to Redding, where her parents had moved a year earlier.

Kathy is survived by her husband, Greg Otto, her mother, Frances Jenkins, her sister, Karen Jenkins, and in-laws Melvin & Shirley Otto of El Mirage, Arizona, brothers-in-law Kevin Otto of Fresno, Ricky Otto and wife Diane of Wheatland, David Webber of Dobbs Ferry, New York, and sisters-in-law Chris Leers and husband Ed of Sonora and Kim Hollingshead and husband Kermit of Cameron Park. Also surviving Kathy are nieces Althea Jenkins Webber of Dobbs Ferry, Tamara Hale and Ashley Otto, both of Shasta Lake, and nephew, Jeremy Jenkins Webber of Dobbs Ferry. Beloved family pets Mousse, Mocha, Tip Toe, and Mojo survive her as well.

A memorial service will be held on the lower level of the Sundial Bridge at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 1.

Kathy's family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to either the Downtown Redding Public Art Project Fund at the Shasta Regional Community Foundation, 1335 Arboretum Drive, Suite B, Redding, CA 96003 or the Riverfront Playhouse, 1620 East Cypress Avenue, Redding, CA 96002.

"Kathy Jenkins worked for American Trails for three years and enthusiastically contributed to the success of the organization and of the 2000, 2002, and 2004 National Trails Symposiums. She made a lot of friends in the trails community and people across the nation and as far away as Canada and Australia are responding with sadness to her death. She touched the lives of so many. She will be missed..."

—Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails

See an article and photo in the Redding Searchlight Record

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