Obenshain, Kathryn Garland

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Kathryn ‘Kitty’ Garland Obenshain, died on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at Heritage Hall, Blacksburg. She was 85 years old. She was preceded in death by her parents, Arnold O. Garland and Elsie Roach Garland, of Christiansburg.

Kitty is survived by her husband of 61 years, Raymond F. Obenshain, of Christiansburg; her daughter, Karen R. Obenshain, of Ashland, Va.; her son, Richard B. Obenshain, Phoenix, Ariz.; two granddaughters, Janna Jennison Jones, of Mesa Ariz. and Maura Jennison-Obenshain, of Phoenix, Ariz.; a great-grandson, Gabriel R. Jones, of Mesa Ariz.; her sisters, Patsy Garland Hoge, of Bluefield, W.Va. and Nancy Garland Bulluck, of Canton, N.C.; her brother, John D. Garland, of Sugarland, Texas; her goddaughter, Kathryn Payne, of Boston, Mass.; and loving in-laws, nieces, nephews, and a host of long-time friends.

Kitty received a B.A. from Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Va., an M.A. from Radford University and a Doctor of Education from Virginia Tech. She was a professor of piano and pedagogy at Radford University for more than 30 years. Among her many accomplishments at Radford, Kitty founded and directed the Bartok Piano Competition, which started as a regional event. The competition later became international and is still going strong today. After her retirement, she became the resident composer for the University’s Opera Ensemble, writing operas for children.

Kitty was known throughout Virginia for her successful efforts to introduce different forms of music, from opera to Appalachian folk, to children in public schools. Kitty was a longtime member of the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church, serving as a deacon and an elder as well as church organist for over 40 years. A voracious reader, Kitty was a member of the Christiansburg Book Club for more than 50 years. She had a special love of daffodils, planting thousands of bulbs in her yard over the years to celebrate the return of spring. Kitty was a strong proponent of living and enjoying one day at a time, showing compassion and kindness for all living things.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on April 1, 2017, beginning with a music recital at 10:30 a.m. followed by a service at 11 a.m., at the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers or cards, the family requests contributions be made to the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church in support of the music program, 107 West Main Street, Christiansburg VA 24073 or to the Radford University Foundation in support of the Dr. Kathryn Garland Obenshain Music Scholarship, P.O. Box 6893, Radford, VA 24142.