Kathryn Elizabeth Tibbens O’Neil Kurtz, 96, of Marathon, NY, died January 7, 2021, of Covid-related illnesses. Born August 7, 1924 in Barrytown, Michigan, Kathryn was one of six children of Melvin and Elizabeth Meyer Tibbens, who settled in South Otselic, NY, where she grew up during the Great Depression. Moving to Cortland, NY, to complete school and find work, Kathryn met and married Kenneth M. O’Neil, with whom she raised five children with extraordinary devotion over their 40 years of marriage, mostly in Marathon. Kathryn worked hard to ensure that all her children obtained an energetic start to their education and continuation to college. Her Catholic faith was a source of strength to Kathryn and Kenneth, and the family in turn supported the life and activities of St. Stephen’s Church. Athletic in youth, a choir singer and church dinner coordinator, member of St. Stephen’s Altar Rosary Society and the Marathon Fireman’s Auxiliary, Kathryn was especially solicitous and generous in service to individual needy families of Marathon and rural Cortland and Chenango counties.
After Kenneth died, Kathryn married Earl Kurtz, also of Marathon. For 30 years they enjoyed retirement at their rural homestead, abundant with bird-watching opportunities. Kathryn cultivated her life-long love of gardening for beauty and food sustenance. She organized good family barbecues, and her happiness and gratitude were amplified in the presence of her children and grandchildren, and she took an abiding interest in their activities and engaged them in hers. Good humor and robust laughter were hallmarks of gatherings with family, her Marathon friends, and most notably her younger sisters.
Kathryn was preceded in death by her parents, her first husband, Kenneth O’Neil, her second husband, Earl Kurtz, and all of her Tibbens siblings: Frank, James, John, Elizabeth (McDaniel), and Marie (Lawrence, Suydan), all formerly of Sherburne, NY. She is survived by her beloved and loving children: Janice O’Neil Hezel (Richard) of Dewitt, NY; James O’Neil of Narragansett, RI; Kenneth O’Neil (Rita) of Cortland; Paul O’Neil (Bonni) of Cortland; and Patricia O’Neil Thon (David), of Marathon; and 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The family offers deep gratitude to her daily caretakers of the last six years at Elizabeth Brewster House in Homer and at Cortland Park nursing home. Funeral services have been postponed due to Covid. She will be interred at Marathon Cemetery.
Memorial gifts in her honor will be gratefully received by the Cortland Chenango Rural Services, Inc., 2704 Lower Cincinnatus Rd, PO Box 57, Cincinnatus, NY 13040.
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