Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Death of a Great Lady

Yesterday Virginia Kettering passed away, right over the hill from me at Kettering Hospital. It was the end of an era. She was the last steward of the turn-of-the-century Dayton rich, who made their money from inventions and spent it on their community, and taught their children to do the same. When her husband Eugene Kettering died, she became the major heir of "Boss Ket", the man who invented the automobile's self-starter. But she made her own name as a philanthropist, a leader, and an art collector. She was a woman who could have done nothing with her life, but instead made herself into an executive who was both tough and good, and led others to do likewise.

Here she is in life: a gallery of photos of her.

News coverage included "Virginia Kettering dead at 95",
"Dayton lucky to have had Mrs. Kettering", a timeline of her life, elegies, and a list of Kettering family contributions to the area All this is from the Dayton Daily News, which headlined the story of her death on the front page.

I've said she was a great art collector, and I'll say it again. But she wanted other people to see what she collected. When you go to Kettering Memorial Hospital's waiting room, there's a priceless Chinese screen up on the wall behind the seating area. It's covered in glass and has all the thermostat protection you could ask for, but there it is, perfect serenity an inch away from screaming toddlers and worried relatives. She bought enough textiles from different countries that the Dayton Art Institute has to run an endlessly rotating exhibit to get any kind of use out of them all. She bought and gave, bought and gave. That was her way.

Here are a couple of things she gave to the DAI. (You can't search the search engine by donor, so this is what I found quickly.): a Koryo dynasty wine bottle from Korea and a menuki of the Rabbit in the moon.

Here are links to a few of the things she helped fund:The US Air Force Museum, Wright State University, The Dayton Art Institute, Kettering Tower (another picture), Dayton Holiday Festival, SunWatch Indian Village (interpretation center), Victoria Theatre (restoration), Carillon Park, The University of Dayton, and Kettering Memorial Hospital and its sister hospitals.

She will be laid to rest beside her husband in Dayton's Woodlawn Cemetery, where rest the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar and many other of Dayton's greatest children. She will have a gravestone there, no doubt.

But if you seek her monument, go to Dayton and look around you.


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