Katherine “Kathy” Virginia Hilbers, beloved mother, sister, aunt, friend, and wife, died peacefully on April 17th surrounded by her immediate family after a courageous and hard-fought five-year battle with Multiple Myeloma.
Kathy was born on May 16, 1959, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Charles Lawrence Hilbers and Katherine Atkinson Hilbers. The eldest of seven children, she was precocious starting to read by the age of two and reading voraciously through childhood. In addition, Kathy showed a great interest in the arts, taking ballet and dancing lessons, teaching belly dancing, and learning how to play the piano. The love of reading, dancing, music, and anything related to science fiction and fantasy (particularly if they involved dragons) continued well into her adulthood.
Kathy left High School two years early immediately enrolling in the engineering program at Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for Kathy the culture at the engineering school at the time was not prepared for a lady engineer and she was soon relegated to working for a living as an executive secretary at a law firm During this time Kathy danced professionally and started to attend science fiction conventions traveling around the country. She was a very talented artist who would design and create her own costumes for the conventions, for herself as well as others, some of which garnered awards. During this time, with her first husband, Francis Allan Foskett, Kathy had her first child, Eric whom she eventually raised single-handedly, taking him everywhere she went. According to Kathy, she and Eric were best friends who looked out for each other as he grew older. She, of course, took him to the conventions and even dressing him up in costumes as well.
Kathy comes from a bridge playing family and she soon started playing competitively and doing so successfully. Kathy was a respected tournament champion often butting heads with some of the best players in the country and coming out on top many times. During this time, with second husband Clyde Kruskal, she gave birth to triplets, Alexander, Rebecca, and Justin. Now a mother four times over Kathy applied the same fierce work-ethic that she showed at work and at play to her home life where she cooked, cleaned, and helped raise all four of her much-loved children. When they were old enough to start playing musical instruments, Kathy would be their accompanist, expertly playing the piano alongside them. Halloween was always a treat for the kids as she would construct new, elegant and sometimes complicated costumes each year – one example was the year she had the triplets dress up as Transformers and the costumes actually connected together to form a single Transformer.
Kathy married once more, to Bryan Coleman, a long-time friend and bridge partner. This new passage in her life saw her delve into new challenges as she finished her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the University of Maryland, after which she showed her ability to excel when faced with challenges as she had stints as a budding actuary with Geico, a Commodities Manager for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and finally a Senior Business Analyst for PECO Energy Company. She introduced her new husband to cooking healthy meals, enjoying fine dining, and a seeing new perspective when traveling by car around the country. They enjoyed annual trips together to Maine and the Inn at Little Washington and were able to travel to France and Italy in 2009 and Hawaii in 2022.
In 2018 Kathy was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. While continuing to work professionally full time, maintain a healthy home for her husband, and manage a growing, extended family, Kathy fought determinedly head-on against the cancer. She underwent successive chemotherapy treatments that weakened her body but failed to weaken her resolve. She worked with oncologists at the Virginia Cancer Specialists in Fairfax, Virginia and at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, looking for a treatment that would slow down the doggedly aggressive cancer. Unfortunately Kathy, still ever the fighter even to the bitter end, eventually succumbed to the disease after putting up a courageous battle that was consistent with the way that she faced the trials she experienced in her life. Those who witnessed her engaging in her struggle, saw a true, real-life heroine who never quit no matter how darkly things turned.
Kathy was beloved by so many people, all of whom were lucky to have encountered such a beautiful person who possessed an equally beautiful soul. Her radiant smile would light up her face, brightening her eyes; anyone on the receiving end could not do anything but feel a great sense of love for her.
Kathy is preceded in death by her parents and is survived by her six siblings, sisters Charlotte and Jennifer and brothers Charles, Evan, Bill, and Larry, Larry’s wife Lourdes (Sandoval) and their two children Isabel and Caleb, and Charles’ son CJ, as well as by her four children, Eric Foskett, Alexander Kruskal, Rebecca Kruskal, and Justin Kruskal, her Aunt Martha Burford Atkinson, Uncle Alonzo Atkinson and Aunt Suzi Atkinson, and by her husband, Bryan Coleman.
A Celebration of Life will be held on: