Cathryn Marie Fries, “Kay,” of Batesville, 88, beloved wife of the late Donald Dickey, Sr., passed peacefully to the Lord on June 2, 2016, shortly after the death of her husband. Loving and prayerful family surrounded Cathryn at the time of her death.
Cathryn was born in Brookville, Indiana on October 15, 1927 to Elmer and Alma (nee Schuck) Fries. Cathryn and her three siblings were raised by their loving mother, a college graduate who placed a high priority on faith in God, education, and hard work. They lived with their grandmother and uncle on the family farm where they learned life lessons daily. As one of her chores, Cathryn arose each morning before sunrise and gathered the eggs from the henhouse. She learned to cook, bake, can and preserve food, sew, and very importantly, she learned the value of a dollar. She developed an exceptional work ethic, patience, discipline, and commitment. The values that Cathryn acquired during the early stages of her life on the farm empowered her, and later she passed on these traits to her children.
After graduating from Brookville High School in 1945, Cathryn moved to Cincinnati to attend Miller’s Business College. Upon graduation from college, Cathryn lived at the Fontbonne and worked as a secretary at Western & Southern Insurance Company. She frequently recalled her days in Cincinnati and the friends she made.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1948, Cathryn married Donald Dickey at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Brookville, Indiana. They settled in Batesville, proudly raised seven children, and were blessed to be together for 67 years, even in their last days.
In the early years of her marriage, Cathryn worked as a private secretary and office manager. However, after Don and she welcomed their first child into the world, Cathryn began her life’s work as CEO of the Dickey family. She modeled faith in God, and she nurtured the growth of her children. Cathryn showed grace and humility in relating to others; she taught her children by example. To Cathryn, no task was too difficult or daunting. She instilled and reinforced a strong work ethic in all of her children. Being conservative, Cathryn reused and recycled countless items; bread bags held baked goods and paper bags lined shelves. Cathryn’s extraordinary cooking and baking skills were legendary. Her chocolate cake was always requested at family gatherings; neighborhood children delighted in her chocolate chip cookies. Her famous cinnamon rolls sold for several hundred dollars at the annual St. Louis Catholic Church Festival. Each of her children remembers “Mom” being selfless, placing their needs above her own. She was ever-present in their lives, both inside and outside her meticulous home. Placing a high priority on education and service, Cathryn volunteered at St. Louis School, as a room mother and cafeteria worker, from 1957 to 1981, when her youngest child graduated from the 8th grade. Cathryn was the center of her family, the gravity around which her husband and children thrived.
In 1974, Cathryn was elected Township Trustee and Assessor. In addition to her duties as assessor, Cathryn helped countless people prepare their taxes, even after she was no longer assessor. In 1979, Cathryn became the Managing Director of the Batesville Bureau of Motor Vehicles License Branch, a position that she held for 25 years. She effectively and efficiently managed the branch, always patient, kind, and extremely helpful to her customers. After Cathryn’s retirement, at the age of 76, many people continued to comment on how much they missed having her at the license branch.
Additionally, Cathryn was an active member of the St. Louis School P.T.A, a Golden Circle Member of the Ladies Auxiliary V.F.W., and an enthusiastic participant in the Ripley County Republican Women’s Club. Cathryn served as an Election Inspector for her Precinct for over 40 years.
Furthermore, “Grammy’s” favorite activity was visiting with her children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. During these visits, “Grammy” found teachable moments to impart her brilliant wisdom and highly regarded advice. She was always available by phone to answer cooking, laundry, and housekeeping questions. She relished preparing family dinners, always asking for any special requests. Cathryn cheered for all Indiana college basketball teams and thoroughly enjoyed watching NCAA March Madness and old classic movies with her beloved husband. Also, she loved shopping trips to Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Chicago with her daughters and granddaughters. Chatting with friends always brought smiles to Cathryn’s face. “Grammy’s” favorite vacation spot was Hilton Head Island. She not only packed her clothes, but also packed bags of her homemade cookies, coffeecakes, and cinnamon rolls. She also prepared meals for the 12-hour road trip. She delighted in taking care of everyone! Most significantly, Cathryn devoted much time to daily prayer, saying the Rosary, Scripture reflection, and visits to the St. Louis Church Adoration Chapel. She regularly watched the Eternal World Television Network and supported multiple Catholic charities.
Undoubtedly, Cathryn’s devout faith, her beautiful, loving, and caring nature, her incredible work ethic, and her selfless spirit are truly her legacy. She will be immeasurably missed by her loving children: Beverly Ehrhardt (Phil) of St. Charles, Illinois, John Dickey (Terri) of Batesville, Glenn Dickey (Deb) of Florence, Kentucky, Mary Sitterding (Mitch), James Dickey (Sandy), and Donald Dickey, Jr., ”Dogger” (Elaine) of Batesville, and Janine Burkhart (Lincoln) of Indianapolis; 12 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and one brother, Elmer. Cathryn’s beloved husband, Don, and two of her siblings, Charles and Maxine, preceded her in death.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, June 5 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Weigel Funeral Home in Batesville, Indiana. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, June 6 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church. Burial will follow in St. Louis Catholic Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Tuition Assistance Program for St. Louis School. Please make checks payable to St. Louis Church, 13 St. Louis Place, Batesville, IN 47006, in honor of Cathryn M. Dickey. Memorial donations may also be made to Batesville Area Ministerial Association Food Pantry, P.O. Box 383, Batesville, IN 47006.