Members and friends of the Dryden United Methodist Church and the My Brothers Keeper (MBK) group met at the Dryden Lake Park on August 20, 2021 for a chance to share sentiments and give farewell to a special friend, Katherine Baxter, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away in July as a result of underlying health issues. There had been no calling hours or funeral for Katherine, but friends wished to honor her memory.
Katherine touched many lives in Dryden. She became a member of the MBK group which constructs sleeping bags out of donated fabric and goods for homeless and marginalized people in the Syracuse area. The group’s purpose meant a lot to Katherine since she was from the Syracuse area and had experienced some of her own difficult times there. While participating in the MBK group, Katherine was moved to join the Dryden UMC where the MBK group meets. It was there that many others came to know Katherine’s heart as she would openly share her concerns and struggles.
Rev. Robyn Hays, the newest pastor of the Dryden UMC joining the Dryden community on July 1, 2021, led the group through a short service with Kathie Chadwick giving the closing prayer. After the gathering, Pastor Hays said that she was really impressed by the stories that were shared and felt that even though she didn’t get to know Katherine, she learned more about who Katherine was through those stories.
MBK group member and Dryden resident, Anne Grant, who had become a good friend of Katherine’s, talked about her exuberant and quirky personality. It was she who initially introduced Katherine to the sleeping bag group. Anne remembered Katherine’s excitement about being in the Dairy Day Parade where she donned a tall purple hat and eagerly waved to spectators.
Several other members of the church and the sewing group shared stories and memories of Katherine including Joyce Church, Maureen Sill, Kathie Chadwick, recently retired DUMC pastor Rev. Pam Carey, Lisa Harris, Judy Starr, Val Cleland, Hummy VanDeWeert and Sandy Hammond. Hammond read a Native American prayer to honor Katherine’s 50% Native American heritage. Sandy valued and was often fascinated by Katherine’s conversations, some of which included stories and beliefs she learned from her predeceased Native American father.
Katherine was respected for her fortitude and efforts to improve her life despite some difficult health and personal setbacks. She was a unique and endearing person who will be missed in Dryden.