Kathy Kolkhorst

Kathy Kolkhorst

Thursday, September 10th, 2020
Recommend this to your friends.
Share via:

Sign in to the Family Interactive Login

The Family Interactive feature enhances An Amazing Life. Authorized family members can securely access their loved one's memorial website settings at any time.

Share Book of Memories with a Friend

Please enter the name and email details so that we can send your friend a link to the online tribute. No names or addresses will be collected by using this service.

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

To share your memory on the wall of Kathy Kolkhorst, sign in using one of the following options:

Sign in with Facebook


Sign in with your email address

Your condolence has been posted successfully

Provide comfort for the family by sending flowers or planting a tree in memory of Kathy Kolkhorst

No Thanks

Contact Funeral Home

Please enter your question or comment below:

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

Kathy's Tribute Fund

  •  Full Name
  •  Initials
  •  Anonymous
By continuing, you agree with the terms and privacy policy.

Kathy's Tribute Fund

There may be a delay while processing. Please do not click the back button or refresh while a payment is processing.
Send Flowers
Guaranteed hand delivery by a local florist


In the presence of loving family and friends, Kathy died of complications of acute leukemia in Missoula, MT, on September 10, 2020.

Friends describe her as having had an outsized influence on her home community of Juneau, and say she will be remembered as a person of deep inspiration and great energy, willing to do the grunt work as readily as assuming leadership when needed, and for her eagerness to launch others on journeys of discovery.

Of the many and diverse projects she initiated, or donated to, or volunteered for, she took great pride in her founding role and 30-year term as chair of Juneau Jazz and Classics, and as the founding chair and a lead fundraiser for the life-size breaching whale sculpture by Skip Wallen in the Bill Overstreet Park.

Kathy was born September 21, 1949, on Staten Island, New York, to Bernard and Jane (Shaw) Kolkhorst. Her father, a US Coast Guard officer, moved his family in 1956 to Kodiak where he took command of the US-CGS Bittersweet, a buoy tender and icebreaker. Kathy’s two years in Kodiak, when Alaska was on the threshold of statehood, were transformative — the dawning of her interest in Alaska history, Native culture, and politics.

In 1958 the family moved back east where Kathy graduated from high school, attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and in 1977 graduated from the University of Connecticut law school.

Twenty years after leaving Alaska she returned to accept a clerkship with Alaska Supreme Court justice Robert Boochever, then serving in Juneau.

It was in Juneau that she met her future husband Bill Ruddy and within a few years joined his private law practice with Jim Bradley.

The couple raised four children and, according to Kathy, their biggest fight during 34 years of marriage was about keeping or throwing out an aging can of 100% maple syrup.

When she married Bill, Kathy signed on to the life-time project of the M/V Princeton Hall, a 65’ classic wooden vessel built in Sitka where it was launched just weeks after America’s declaration of war on Japan.

Through her association with the Princeton Hall, Kathy met Cyril George Sr. who had helped construct the boat while a high school student at Sheldon Jackson School. Their friendship blossomed, leading to Kathy’s deep interest in Alaska Native culture, language, and history. She was adopted into the Deisheetaan Clan of Angoon.

Many of her contributions included small, quiet gestures like frequent note cards to friends, and the material aid and encouragement she gave to young, rural students.

Kathy based her life on family, friends, and faith. Before her death she expressed confidence in knowing where she is going and approached the end of her life without fear.

Kathy was preceded in death by her father Bernard, her mother Jane, and husband Bill. She is survived by her siblings Steve (Mary Jo) Kolk-horst, Hank (Sherri) Kolkhorst, and Kristen (Chip) Nelson; two children from Bill’s first marriage: Lydia (Tariq) of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Sean (Pauline) of Aberdeen, Scotland; and two children of the marriage: Anna (Jason) Speichinger of Lusaka, Zambia, and Elena (Forrest) Merrill of Mis-soula, Montana; and grandchildren Ezra, Ruth, and Joel Speichinger; and Skye and Talon Merrill; and many foreign exchange students, mostly from Russia.

A memorial will be held in Juneau, early summer 2021.

Kathy’s family may be contacted at PO Box 1138, Frenchtown, MT 59834
Read Less

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kathy Kolkhorst, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

Sign Up for Notifications

Receive notifications about information and event scheduling for Kathy

Service Details

There are no events scheduled. You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or planting a memorial tree in memory of Kathy Kolkhorst.


We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Kathy here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.

No video recorded.

Private Condolence
Provide comfort for the family of Kathy Kolkhorst by sending flowers.
Guaranteed hand delivery by a local florist

Photos & Videos

Photo Album

Upload up to 10 images at a time, max 8MB each
Share by: