Kathy Mathias In Memoriam
Kathy Mathias has touched many lives in the Ocean City community, and I, like hundreds of others, feel privileged to have known her.
When Kathy’s longtime friend Carol Ann Beres broke the news to me on Monday, it did not come as a surprise, as it was well-known around these parts Kathy’s years-long battle with cancer was about to come to a sad end.
Although death is always sudden and tragic in my mind, there did seem to be an unbelievable peace and acceptance from family and friends regarding Kathy’s ultimate fate in recent weeks.
Whenever someone passes away that I know well, my immediate thoughts turn to wondering if the deceased knew how people felt about her.
In Kathy’s case, the answer is yes.
Kathy gave a lot of gifts in her time, whether it was in the form of being a wife, mother, working professional or a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and the Boy Scouts.
Fortunately, prior to her passing, Kathy received a wonderful blessing from the community she impacted in so many ways — she learned how her friends and colleagues viewed her as her sickness overwhelmed her and her family.
Due to the Caring Bridge website, Kathy was able to read heartfelt passages from admirers. In about six weeks, more than 120 tributes were posted online and many contained similar notes about her strength, leadership, sincerity and perseverance. Even more came after she passed away on Monday.
Kathy was loved, respected and admired by many, and she was told that over and over again through these online tributes and messages. That invariably brought comfort and peace to her as well as family and friends in this solemn time.
I have a lot of similar thoughts than those expressed in recent months about Kathy, a longtime fixture at City Hall before, during and after her husband Jim’s career as an Ocean City elected official.
As her husband’s life turned to the public realm in a variety of capacities, Kathy was the family’s steadying force, filling numerous roles in the lives of her kids, Lauren and Trevor, leading Jim on many occasions to use words like “amazing”, “rock solid” and “unbelievable” when he spoke of his wife in casual conversations.
While I had significant dealings with her on a professional level in her capacity as the assistant to the city manager, the mayor’s administrator and later as city clerk, Kathy’s legacy goes far beyond her work life.
In my mind, if possible, it even goes beyond all her efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer and the tremendous leadership role she accepted with the local American Cancer Society group before, during and after her various fights with the deadly disease.
Above all, what I will remember most about Kathy was her authenticity.
Kathy treated everyone the same — she was respectful to all. That’s a trait I admire and marveled over often while observing her over the last 15 years or so.
Throughout her semi-public life with Jim, Kathy maintained a level-headed approach to just about everything, no matter if she was in Annapolis for her husband’s swearing in ceremonies, simply out to eat with the family or enjoying a quiet night with girlfriends.
She never seemed to be too high or too low and always greeted with a smile and a personal message, no matter what challenges she was facing privately and make no mistake there were many worries on her mind at certain times.
This ability to be honest, kind and nice was what made Kathy so charming and special.
With Kathy, you knew she cared about the response to an inquiry, “how are you, how’s the family?”
With Kathy, you always knew she was sincere and truly wanted to know.
What’s left today for those grieving is to simply remember her. Her life was one deserving of celebration and reflection today, tomorrow and in the future.