Katherine Dudley Garner (Kitty) was delivered into God’s hands on October 7th, 2021 surrounded by her family after a seven-month battle with cancer.
Kitty was born on October 30, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee to Elizabeth Lindsay Wall, and Charles Trawick Dudley, Jr. She graduated from the Webb School in Knoxville in 1981 before matriculating at Davidson College where she graduated with a degree in English. Davidson is also where she met and began her lifelong relationship with her husband, Frederic Howard Garner (Ted). Following Davidson, Kitty attended law school at the University of Virginia and earned her degree in 1989.
Kitty and Ted married in 1988, and moved to New York City in 1990, where Kitty began her career as an associate in the corporate department at Shearman & Sterling. They moved to Charlotte in 1993, where Kitty joined Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman before “retiring” to raise her young family and pursue a number of avocations and passions that propelled her through her extraordinary life.
Kitty had many interests and talents as well as a deep intellectual curiosity that created meaningful relationships and a rich fabric of life— her interests extended from bridge to flying to an obsession with the artistic capabilities of photoshop. There was little that she could not accomplish when she set her mind to it—Kitty, in a word, was indomitable. Kitty took up flying at the age of 50 and often enjoyed flying over Roaring Gap on clear summer days. Kitty also loved the game of Bridge drawn by its never ending challenges and became a competitive and accomplished player. However, she principally enjoyed its social aspects: the places traveled and the many friendships formed through the game.
Another passion was a love for contemporary art and design. Kitty spent much of her available time wandering the streets of New York exploring its rich inventory of museums and galleries. Kitty was immersed in the community of artists in Charlotte, and loved her relationships with the various galleries including Goodyear Arts, the Mint Museum, the McColl Center, and of course, Davidson. Kitty also served on the founding Board of Trustees for the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and pursued a brief career in interior design. To be sure, Kitty will be remembered for her artistic sensibilities and enormous sense of style not only through her design talents but also in her unique approach to fashion. Kitty loved to celebrate friends, family and causes with ornate and fun parties She would always light up a room with her wardrobe, and without a doubt, her coats and shoes. This sense of style contributed to her avant-garde approach to life, always pushing the envelope of ideas and community.
Kitty was an athlete and pursued a variety of activities in which she excelled (including a 3 hour 23 minute time in the New York City Marathon). Kitty loved to play tennis and was also an accomplished and graceful skier. She could tackle almost anything the mountains presented her either in Colorado or Europe. Kitty and Ted with their four children spent most Christmas and winter holidays in Colorado, including stays at the Sonnenalp Hotel—her favorite family retreat. Kitty will always be remembered for her fashionable dress on the slopes and starting a bit late in the morning but always making it to the last chair of the day.
Kitty was also well known for her athletic talents on the golf course learning to play at a young age at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville where her parents were accomplished golfers. Kitty kept a single digit handicap throughout her life and won an extraordinary 25 club championships. Remarkably, she continued to play golf during her fight against cancer and competed in two tournaments as recently as this August, truly astounding her physicians. However, Kitty’s principle passion was carrying her bag on her shoulder while competing and playing with her friends and family in Charlotte and Roaring Gap.
One of Kitty’s significant contributions and for which she was most proud will be her dedication and commitment to diversity and racial equity. Kitty served on the steering committee and then as a founding Board Member of Trinity Episcopal School in uptown Charlotte. As exhibited in the Trinity Mission Statement, Kitty believed profoundly in having spiritual content in her children’s education as well as a sense of community and diversity. All four of the Garner children attended Trinity. Kitty dedicated the majority of her time over the past five years to the formation of The LoveBolt — a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of systemic racism through social inclusion and education. Kitty became a self educated expert on how our government, legal systems, and social mores have contributed to structural racism in our society. Kitty was omnipresent in Charlotte spreading her message and using art as a platform to educate and communicate the mission of LoveBolt. Kitty will always be known for not only “talking the talk, but also walking the walk.”
Kitty’s most important legacy will be the love and care that she shared with her four children, Lindsay, Teddy, Mebane and Cameron, as well as her lifetime partner and husband of 33 years, Ted. Kitty was committed to her children’s academic and spiritual education. She was a longtime parishioner at Christ Episcopal Church where she taught Sunday school and confirmation classes. She wanted to be an example not only through what she preached but also how she lived—a never ending commitment to personal development and learning, a generous and friendly spirit, and an unyielding desire to help others. Kitty had an unusual balance of carpe diem combined with a love of traditions. She approached life with verve never wasting a minute and believed each day was a gift not to be taken for granted. Indeed, as many have described, Kitty was a force — a force of nature, creativity, style, and spirit that spilled into the lives of everyone she met.
In addition to her husband, Ted, Kitty is survived by her children, Elizabeth Lindsay, Frederic Howard, Jr., Katherine Mebane and Ann Cameron; her mother Elizabeth Lindsay Wall of Knoxville, TN; her father, Charles Trawick Dudley, Jr.; her brother, James J. Dudley and his wife, Sloan of Charlotte and their children, Will, Woodson, and Hallie, her uncle Thomas Dudley and his wife Bonnie of Jacksonville, FL; and Powell Lindsay and his wife, Melinda, of Bethesda, MD.
Kitty will be irreplaceable as a friend, community leader, wife and mother. We will miss you and love you always and your memory will endure.
A service will be held at 11am Wednesday, October 13th at Christ Church, 1412 Providence Rd. Followed by an outdoor reception. This service may be viewed live online at www.christchurchcharlotte.org/funer-live-broadcast.
Memorial gifts may be made to Lovebolt, P. O. Box 5381, Charlotte, NC 28299 (lovebolt.org).
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