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Photo by Tess Rowing
Katha Dillon currently resides at Hickory Creek.
Editor’s Note: “Senior Stars” is a new, recurring Daily News feature centered on seniors in the Decatur County community. Do you have a senior of note who wishes to tell his or her story? If so, contact the Daily News at email@example.com.
Hickory Creek resident Katha Dillon was born April 13, 1943 to Bud and Betty Small, and lived in Greensburg until she married.
Katha grew up with two sisters (Vicky Small-Miller and Katrina Small) and a brother (Jim Small), and attended Greensburg Community High School. She was very involved with the community, and never “missed a ballgame,” Katha said. She also attended all the dances.
Katha said that throughout her life she has been told her smile and kindness have been considered some of her more distinguishing characteristics. Her personable nature would open many opportunities for her, as well as unique experiences.
Katha said she had dreamed about going to college but her family was poor, and Katha’s parents had made the point clear that Katha’s brother attending college would take priority over her.
“I knew I was a good student,” said Katha, “I’d hoped to get a scholarship and work my way through.”
Katha would never go to college, but Oct. 3, 1964 married her on-again off-again high school boyfriend, Jack Schiff. They divorced three and a half years later. Jack still visits Katha at Hickory Creek while visiting his sister.
During their brief marriage, Jack and Katha moved to Indianapolis for work. Katha would become involved in credit management and assistant management for retail chain F.W. Woolworth, which is now known as Foot Locker.
After her divorce from Jack, Katha would soon marry her boss, Bill Dillon, May 28, 1968.
Bill was eventually transferred to Jackson, Miss. for work, where the Dillon family would reside for three and a half years. Bill and Katha had moved with their two-year-old son, David Dillon.
Bill would have his first bout of lung cancer while in Mississippi.
Katha made the decision that if she was going to lose Bill, she wanted to at least be near family. The Dillons returned to Greensburg for six months before moving to New Castle for Bill’s work as a district manager for the Indianapolis Star.
Katha acquired a job delivering newspapers, and would take five- year-old David along to poke newspapers into customers’ mailboxes.
“It was the best job I’ve ever had,” Katha said.
Customers would give Katha and David homemade jelly and fresh vegetables from the gardens, and the Star paid her faithfully for her work.
After another job transfer the family would move to Indianapolis, and Katha eventually landed a couple of jobs through odd means.
One job came when a telemarketer called. Katha didn’t buy any services, but was instead offered a job from the telemarketer for sales. The offer was not an empty one, and Katha wound up working for Indiana Bell (Now AT&T).
Another job came along after two weeks for working at Indiana National. An investor for a drug company liked Katha’s friendly nature and wanted Katha as a receptionist to represent the company. He offered Katha twice the pay of the bank, and promised that Indiana National would leave her a glowing recommendation despite leaving without notice.
The investor also threatened the bank to close his considerably-sized account, a risk Indiana National wasn’t willing to take for any employee.
The drug company would keep its promises, as well as pay $50,000 in health insurance for Katha’s husband. Bill would pass away in the 80’s.
Though energetic and cheerful, Katha’s own health has caught up with her.
She remained independent for five years, but after multiple falls which required hospital visits, Katha’s hospital required her to stay in a nursing home.
She was in Zionsville Meadows for a short time, and said she was lost and “going crazy” in the large nursing home. She begged to be moved to Hickory Creek. Katha only had words of praise for her current residence and its attendants.
“I still do most things myself,” said Katha. She also welcomes new guests and sometimes leads some exercise classes.
Katha and Bill had one son, David, who would go on to marry and have two daughters: Bella and Vallory, who are currently visiting family in Austria.
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Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004