Kathryne Karraker Hitchen, 94, Juniata, passed away peacefully on Friday with her daughter, Lisa, at her side at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, from complications of pneumonia.
She was born in Altoona, daughter of the late John and Mae (Ritchey) Porter. She married Melvin E. Karraker on Jan. 15, 1944, in Dongola, Ill.; he preceded her in death on Sep. 25, 1969. On April 12, 1982, she married Harry S. Hitchen of Altoona. Mr. Hitchen died on Jan. 8, 1985.
Surviving are her daughter, Lisa Karraker of Pittsburgh; her son, Greg Karraker, and his wife, Kathryn Wickstrom Karraker, of Cotati, Calif.; her stepchildren and spouses: Ann and Joe Lingenfelter of Mifflinburg and Karen and Don Dickey of Hanover Park, Ill.; two nieces: Gayle Orberg of Reno, Nev., and Jo-Ann Jones and her husband, John, of Apopka, Fla.
After graduating from Altoona High School in 1937, she earned a BA in Music from Sherwood Music School and taught music to high school students in Illinois and Kentucky during the last years of WWII. She also sang with Peter Duchin's orchestra for a brief period.
Kathryne is best remembered as an unselfish giver. Settling in Juniata in 1945, she taught piano and voice students in her home for nearly seven decades, giving her last lesson to an adult student less than a month ago. Literally thousands of students' lives were enriched by the musical talent she shared with them. One of her better-known students was Mike Reid, who built a successful career as a songwriter after retiring from the Cincinnati Bengals.
For nearly 40 years, she sang in the choir of Trinity Lutheran Church, Juniata, and acted as choir director for a period of time. She then served as music director of Asbury Presbyterian Church, retiring in 2011. She helped deliver Meals on Wheels from the time she was 50 until she was nearly 85, when most people her age would have been receiving meals, instead of delivering them. Because of her dedication to the Altoona community, Kathryne was honored with a proclamation on her 90th birthday, presented by Mayor William Schirf.
She will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known her.
Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, 2014, Mauk & Yates Funeral Home Inc., Juniata. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 107 Asbury Lane, Altoona, officiated by Linda Williams. Interment will be at Grandview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Altoona Food Bank, 2100 6th Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.