saturday spirit

Elizabeth “Betty” Katona was one of those rare people whom you can know slightly but appreciate greatly. I had known her for more than half a century after being among many thousands of youngsters she taught how to swim in her 40 years at Knoebels Crystal Pool.

Over the years, I have occasionally met or done stories about Mrs. Katona as a result of her many activities, including swim coach at Mount Carmel Area High School and especially in what was a 75-year career as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.

In recent years, I have met her when my wife JoAnn and I occasionally take Holy Communion to a faith-filled group of residents at Mount Carmel Senior Living Community. Despite some health issues, she has always been a delight to speak to and a pleasure to be around.

On Sept. 22, I was conversing with Mrs. Katona at the senior living center when JoAnn came over and I discovered she had never really met Mrs. Katona. After an introduction, we spent a pleasant few moments in conversation.

That time brought into focus why Mrs. Katona was upbeat despite some physical problems, how she gave so much time to community activities, and the reason she was so devoted to her friends and especially her family. She had a deep faith in and love for God.

She recalled her service to the Red Cross began when she was a high school student during World War II when her brothers and other relatives were in the service. Thanks to countless prayers, they all survived.

One them showed her a well-worn pocket prayer book as testimony to the frequency of his prayers. All of her family were safely home.

Given how full of life she seemed Sunday, Sept. 22, despite her 92 years, I was shocked to read that she had died the following Sunday. Then I thought of the joyful reunion she must be having with her husband Joseph A. Katona, and the family who went before her. Mrs. Katona was safely home.

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A full life is filled with love.

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