Kathleen Jean Fritchey was born June 10, 1952, in Hood River, Ore., to Thomas and Norma Fritchey. She passed away April 26, 2018, at home from the complications of pancreatic cancer.
Kathy and her brother Robert were raised on a farm in the Mountain Brook community outside of White Salmon. She attended the one-room Mountain Brook School for seven years with many of her cousins, then transferred into White Salmon for eighth grade and high school.
After graduating high school, Kathy attended college at Washington State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal nutrition.
It was there she met her husband, Joe Olmstead. They were married the summer after she graduated and lived in Seattle and Spokane for a short time before moving to a “rundown 80-acre farm” in Chattaroy. Over the next 41 years, they would buy more land and increase the size of the cow herd. Kathy raised over a thousand calves, starting at age nine, naming each and everyone.
Kathy worked as an animal nutritionist until her children were born when she became a full-time farmer and homemaker. An ambitious gardener in addition to a farmer, Kathy grew (and then canned and froze) the family’s produce, raised their meat and baked bread and dessert for every meal. She also kept a milk cow most of the time, making fresh cheese and butter. There was hardly a day when the family didn’t sit down at six o’clock sharp to a square meal prepared mostly of from food produced on the farm.
4-H was an integral part of Kathy’s life starting when she was nine, with sewing and dairy projects as a kid, and volunteering as a leader in the Pend Oreille County 4-H program since 1990. She led projects as varied as rabbits, chickens, sewing, cooking, market beef, and Know Your Government. She continued teaching kids to sew until she was too weak to continue.
She has also been involved with the Pend Oreille County fair, the Northeast Washington Hay Growers, the Inland Grange and other local groups. Beyond organized volunteering, Kathy has been a farm-life resource for many neighbors and others in the community. She was only a phone call away for anyone with questions about their gardens, cows, chickens, other livestock, and she would drop anything to help save someone’s animal in trouble.
Kathy is survived by her husband of 43 years, Joe Olmstead; her son Dell Olmstead (Alva) and his children Abagail, Dylan, Alajandra and Arybella of New Mexico; her daughter Jeannie (Mark) Rude and her children Samuel and Thomas of Montana; her mother Norma Fritchey; her brother Robert Fritchey and many cousins.
She is preceded in death by her father, Thomas Fritchey.
Memorial services are scheduled for May 19, 2018, at 11 a.m. at the Inland Grange in Elk.
Information from the News and our advertisers (Want to add your business to this to this feed?)