By Rose S. Prinzi
This month marks a sad anniversary. On May 18, 1988, Jamestown resident,
Kathy Kardish Wilson disappeared.
Kathy’s sorority Sisters wrote at that time, “She is one of our most dedicated Sisters. She volunteers for most projects and sees that all are completed. New members look to this 33 year-old for guidance. Her private life is very full – wife, mother of three, career, church and enrolled in college with hopes of someday becoming a teacher. We see less of her as her school schedule increasingly conflicts with some meeting, but we all assume there would be time to sit and chat with her at another meeting or social event.”
It was, as a television program later said, “…as if she had vanished from the earth.” She never returned to work from her lunch break. Her purse was found a few miles south of the city, and her van was found in a shopping mall on the other side of the city. For a long time those seemed to be the only clues the police had. Interviews with family, friends and co-workers convinced them that Kathy’s disappearance was not voluntary. She was too dedicated to her family to have walked away from them.
Kathy’s thirteen-member sorority chapter, Xi Alpha Upsilon, along with Kathy’s
family survived by “circling the wagons” and drawing on each other’s strength. Any
action made them feel less hopeless. They distributed posters and conducted fundraisers.
The sorority’s bonds of sisterhood took on new quality and dimension. All struggled to
cope with the tragedy of Kathy’s disappearance.
Sixteen months later, Kathy’s remains were found in a wooded area south of the
city. Two men were arrested and charged with her abduction and murder. The Sisters of
Xi Alpha Upsilon said, “Okay – so what could be done to turn some of this sadness into
Kathy’s goal of a more fulfilling career is shared by many, but is often out of
financial reach. Her Sisters and her family wanted to see Kathy’s dream come true for
others. They established the Kathy Kardish Wilson Education Fund Scholarship which is
administered by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The criteria of the fund mirrors Kathy’s life: married, working mother, community-minded while engaged in undergraduate studies.
The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation wishes to remind eligible
individuals that the Kathy Kardish Wilson Memorial Education Fund Scholarship application is due at the Foundation office May 25, 2008. Applications are available at the Foundation office or website: www.crcfonline.org.
Consider making a donation to the Kathy Kardish Wilson Memorial Education
Fund Scholarship in her memory or in honor of a special person you would like to recognize.