Kathryn E. Gwaltney, 81, of Fort Branch, formerly of Evansville, passed away on Wednesday, June 22, 2005 at Deaconess Hospital.


She was born on February 29, 1924 to Andrew “Bates” and Margaret Dean Hickrod and grew up in Ft. Branch.


She was valedictorian of her class at Ft. Branch High School and went on to obtain a degree from Indiana University School of Business in 1944. While at IU, she was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority. She began her career with Sears Roebuck and Co., as a management trainee in 1944 in Indianapolis. During 1945, she was sent to Sears’ national personnel office in Chicago as a human resources trainee. In 1946, she became the Group Personnel Manager of the Sears store in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1948, she came back to Evansville and was named the Group Personnel Manager for the Evansville Sears store located downtown at Fourth & Sycamore, which was the first retail store for Sears. When Sears moved out of downtown and relocated to Washington Square Mall, she moved also and continued her career as the Group Personnel Manager. She loved her work and was very proud of her association with Sears for over 25 years and the colleagues she worked with during those years. During her career, she hired over 4,000 people. She retired from Sears and Roebuck in 1973. As a result of her accomplishments, she was invited to join the Evansville Personnel Association, which made her the first woman member. She also appointed as a member of Mayor Frank McDonald’s Human Relations committee, and the American Business Women’s Association. She was also very active in her community, her church and she loved golf. She was the former President and Board member of the Princeton Country Club Ladies Golf. She also enjoyed serving as the former President of the Ladies Golf Association at Oak Meadow Country Club. She played in many tournaments with her husband, Robert “Tab” Gwaltney and developed many friendships with fellow golfers. She was very active in her church, the First United Methodist Church of Ft. Branch, where she was a former trustee, and President of the United Methodist Women. Her church was a big part of her life. Her community involvement included the CD Chapter P.E.O., The Tourists Literary Club, a charter member of the Morning Etude Music Club, the Lady Elks, Psi Ote Xi Sorority, Gibson General Hospital Pink Ladies (lifetime member), and a former Board Member for the Evansville Raintree Girl Scout Council for 6 years. She also thoroughly enjoyed her bridge clubs and Tripoli club.


She was a wonderful mother and is survived by her daughter, Karen S. Helmerich of Evansville, son-in-law Wilbur J. Helmerich III, and two grandsons, John Conrad Helmerich and Andrew Dean Helmerich who were the joy of her life.


She was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Robert “Tab” Gwaltney, and her parents, Margaret Dean West Hickrod and Andrew Bates Hickrod.


Friends may call for visitation from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Sunday, June 26, 2005, at Stodghill Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 27 at the First United Methodist Church at the corner of Vine & Main Streets in Ft. Branch, IN with Rev. Tarrell Thompson officiating. Burial will be held at Walnut Hill cemetery in Ft. Branch


Kathryn E. Gwaltney