Kathryn Delores “Kathy” Sams Zeller

Zeller-Kathryn-2Mass of Christian Burial for Kathryn Zeller, 82, Lawrence will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. Burial will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.

Kathryn was born in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1931. She was the fifth born of eight children in the Sams family. Kathryn’s two brothers, Ralph and Howard, served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Her baby brother, Bobby, served in the U.S. Navy and Army during the Vietnam War. Sisters Ruby, Joy, Becky, and Marie worked and raised their families in North and South Carolina. Her mother and father were employed in the textile industry in southwestern North Carolina, later opening a small retail store in Gastonia.

In her early twenties, Kathryn left North Carolina to find her fortune in Washington D.C. While working as a model in an elegant Washington D.C. department store, she met a dashing young U.S. Army Sergeant by the name of Leonard J. Zeller. She married Len on Valentine’s Day 1951 at the Fort Myer Chapel, Arlington, Virginia.

Army life was a whirlwind. Shortly after the two were wed, Len was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and they transferred to Bavaria, West Germany. Len and Kathy enjoyed two assignments in West Germany, one in Arizona, and four in the Washington D.C. area. Len left Kathryn and their children alone to serve a year in South Korea and a year at war in South Vietnam. Those familiar with military life appreciate the demands and uncertainties Kathryn dealt with while keeping the household together and raising four beautiful children. They retired from the U.S. Army in 1976.

Kathryn and Len arrived in Lawrence Kansas in the summer of 1976. They worked together to establish the Electrolife Battery Company. As small business owners and proud members of the Lawrence family, they were active in their community. They were known for treating their customers and business associates with the utmost respect and dignity. Many remember Kathy as “The Butterfly Lady” at the Battery Shop in North Lawrence. Her daughter, Robin, and son, Ronald, will continue the business in Kathryn’s absence.

Kathryn passed away on January 4, 2014. She was a great woman, loved dearly by her family and all that had the pleasure to know her. She will be profoundly missed! She is survived by her children Robin, Ronald, and Randel, and their families. She joins her husband Len, daughter Katrina, as well as her parents, brothers, and sisters who have passed on before her.

A Rosary will be said 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 7, 2014 with visitation to follow until 8:00 p.m. at Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

Memorial Contributions may be made in her name to St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the Disabled American Veterans, Dorsey-Liberty Post #14 American Legion, USO of Metropolitan Washington, Inc. and may be sent in care of the Mortuary.

10 Condolences

  1. Joy Childers on January 5, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I love and miss you greatly Kat. I will never forget you.

  2. Randel Zeller on January 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    We miss you dearly already.
    Save journey.
    Thank you for all you did for our wonderful family.
    God speed!

  3. Jodie Birch on January 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    For my dearest Aunt Kathryn:
    I am thinking of you, laughing in heaven with your beloved Len, and having a great time with my own Mom and Dad, Dee and Bob. There has never been a more elegant and gracious Lady, or a Lady more blessed with beautiful family. Our love to you all, and our deepest sympathy at this most sad time.
    Jodie Birch

  4. Elaine Houston on January 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I was a joy knowing this lovely lady. She always had a friendly smile. So sorry for your loss.
    The Houstons

  5. Bob Lockwood on January 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Please accept my condolences in the loss of Mrs. Zeller. I have been a loyal supporter of Lawrence Battery for decades, and always found her wit and pleasant manner refreshing and comforting during my visits there. The “Butterfly Lady” will certainly be missed. Blessings to you all. KU Coach Bob Lockwood

  6. Vickie Peek on January 6, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Even though the military, Army for my sweet Aunt Kat & Uncle Len, Navy for my husband, Sam and me, kept us away from ‘home’ in Gastonia, I was fortunate to get to visit with them at our Mama and Daddy Sams’s house several times. (I was half raised by my Mama and Daddy Sams, so since everyone else called them ‘mama and daddy’, I did too.
    Oh how blessed I was for those visits. Her face mirrored her sweetness and love it seemed like for everyone she met. I loved her laugh. I can still hear it. I saw her last when we were saying goodbye to my Aunt, and her sister, Ruby in July. Had I known that was the last time I would see her, I would have made the visit longer. I would have smothered her with love. That old hindsight was hiding that day. I didn’t know she was leaving that night and so I thought I would see her at the funeral the next day. A good lesson learned in not holding back.
    Due to my own physical impairments I am grieved that I cannot be there one last time with you, my Dearest Aunt Kat. I will always remember you. I always said ‘Elizabeth Taylor had nothing over my Beautiful Aunt Kat. Kat had plenty over her though with her inner beauty.

  7. Leanne, Daemeon and William Thomas on January 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Grandma Zeller, thank you for being the amazing women that you are. We will miss you greatly!

  8. Bob and Carol Chase on January 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Very nice picture of your mom. I have vivid memories of her sitting at the counter in The Battery shop – working away. She literally worked until the day she died. That is what I aspire to. God bless you as you mourn and also reflect on the good times.

  9. Paul Diedrich and Marilyn Fischer on January 7, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    To the Zeller Family,
    Len and Kathryn were wonderful neighbors and good friends to us since we moved in across the street 23 years ago. As we have missed Len for the past years, we will sorely miss Kathryn. Our thoughts and prayers extend to your entire family.
    Paul and Marilyn

  10. Terri Dees on January 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Dear Randy, Ron, Robin, and family,

    I am so very sorry to hear that Aunt Kat passed away. I just found out today. Aunt Ruby always let me know about family news and sadly she also is no longer here to keep me informed.

    I always thought that Aunt Kat was so elegant and had such class. I loved her voice, mannerism and sense of style. Looking at her picture I see glimpses of Mother, Aunt Ruby, and Mama Sams in her beautiful face. She was one of a kind and will be greatly missed.

    I pray that just as the Lord wrapped His loving arms around Aunt Kat and welcomed her home that He will wrap His loving arms around each one of you and give you comfort and wonderful memories of her that will live forever in your hearts.

    God Bless each of you.
    Love Terri and family

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