MISSOULA — On Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, at the age of 73, Kathleen Marie Schwenk Gashwiler died quietly in her sleep.
Kathy was born on Aug. 4, 1946, in Missoula to Jack and Marjorie Rangitsch Schwenk. Being the oldest of nine children Kathy took on a motherly role at a young age helping with her younger siblings. Little did she know how this would shape her future. Growing up on the Schwenk farm in Target Range fostered Kathy’s love for animals. Milking cows, collecting chicken eggs, barn kittens, and horses were the highlight of Kathy’s youth. Kathy was a champion barrel racer and loved her time on the rodeo circuit with her sister Brenda. Kathy attended Saint Anthony elementary school, and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1964.
On June 7, 1968, in Missoula, Kathy married the love of her life and best friend John Hiram Gashwiler. They were married 43 years prior to his death in 2012. Kathy and John started their family soon after marrying, and purchased their family home on Edith Street in 1978. Their lives together were centered around their children and their home in which a lifetime of memories were created.
Kathy was a mother above all else, she devoted her life to raising her six children. She taught her children through example the importance of hard work, the value of a dollar, the power of faith, and that a mother’s love has no boundaries. Kathy was proud beyond measure of the accomplishments of her children throughout their lives.
Kathy’s ten grandchildren were a source of pure joy. She loved attending all of their activities and sports events, taking them to plays at the Missoula Children’s Theater, dinners, and most importantly joking and laughing with them. Grammie was full of silliness and a fierce love for her grandchildren. Kathy had a very special bond with her granddaughter Kylie Mckittrick. They shared a deep understanding for each other, and a connection that only the two of them understood. They could talk and laugh for hours or sit together in silence, they truly just loved being together.
Kathy was also an avid gardener. Her clematis, hostas, and hens and chicks in her spectacular yard were enjoyed by family, friends, and neighbors. She also deeply loved her dog Bailey and their daily routine of walks to the Clark Fork River, DNRC, and around her neighborhood. Kathy was blessed with wonderful neighbors and friends who she loved chatting with on her daily walks. Kathy could talk to anyone, with her quick smile and kind words she had friends from all walks of life.
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Kathy is survived by her children, Jamie (Dan) McKittrick, Julie (Mark) Heintzelman, John (Vicki) Gashwiler, Janet Gashwiler, Kelly (Dave) Cluett; grandchildren, Danny, Kylie and Brooke Mckittrick, Blake and Ava Heintzelman, Ellie and Maggie Gashwiler, Haylee, Landon and Jacob Cluett; siblings, Denis (Gayle) Schwenk, Brenda (Tom) Beers, Michael (Patrice) Schwenk, Patrick (Cathy) Schwenk, Daniel (Deanna) Schwenk, Bill Schwenk, Jim (Karen) Schwenk, Tim (Cheryl) Schwenk; best friend Linda Lennox, and a large extended family.
Kathy is met in heaven by her husband John Hiram Gashwiler; daughter Katie Marjorie Gashwiler; parents Jack and Marjorie Rangitsch Schwenk and her much loved dog Bailey who passed on Nov. 23, 2019.
Kathy’s family would like to thank Dr. Nicholas Freudenberg and Dr. Kyle Smith who were a source of constant support for Kathy as well as her family through this process, Missoula Hospice who was invaluable in her final days, and the Springs of Missoula for loving Kathy like their own.
Services will be held at Christ The King Catholic Church, located at 1400 Gerald Ave., Missoula, Montana, on Friday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. with a reception to follow. A private family interment will follow.
In lieu of flowers the family would like donations to be made to the Missoula Humane Society or AniMeals, organizations that were dear to Kathy’s heart.