Kathy Gariety: a Life of Friendship

Jan 08, 2003 12:20 PM EST

GREENFIELD, Wis. -- Hundreds gathered at the Layton Avenue Baptist Church in rememberance of Kathy Gariety, one of the three missionaries slain in Yemen on Dec. 30 by a lone gunman. The only one of the three to be laid to rest in America, Gariety was buried in Milwaukee on the day of the memorial, in the tranquil snow-covered Holy Cross Cemetery in Greenfield, Wis. The friends and families all agreed, as they looked over the whitened field, Gariety had touched their lives through her smile, her passion, stubbornness and love.

Many of the gathered wept over Gariety's death, but still, hundreds smiled over her memory. They recalled her tenacity and her passion for the people of Yemen.

"She had conviction, she had commitment, she had the fruits of the Spirit in her life," said Keith Chase, Gariety's close friend and pastor for 15 years. "Kathy knew that faith in God meant trusting in God no matter what, no matter when, no matter where. Her faith was strong as anyone I'd ever known."

Chase recalled Gariety's popularity, particularly with the Yemenis children during his visit to Yemen. At the time, Gariety had served 10 years as the hospital's purchasing manager.

"As soon as we got past the gate, children swarmed around Kathy," he said. "It took 20 minutes to take a five-minute walk."

Gariety's popularity did not end within the borders of Yemen. Friends and family recalled countless times Gareity had influenced their lives.

Clara Alcott recounted Gariety's influence on her as a youth director and Sunday School teacher at the church.

"She was a consistent presence in my life," Alcott said. "She was a good teacher because she was personable and strong.

"It's very important for women to have a strong Christian woman's presence in their lives and she was. I saw somebody finishing the race, and I saw someone finishing the race sprinting."

Thai Hua, who moved from Vietnam to the United State without his family, recalled how Gariety helped him during a difficult and uncertain time.

"She helped me get my first job at a bookstore," Hua said. "A lot of people say things and don't mean it, but when she said something, she meant it. She meant a lot to me."

Doris Moorman, who sang Gariety's favorite song, "To the Ends of the Earth," during the memorial service, said the slain worker had touched their lives when she led the youth group. He shared the memory of Gariety, giving him a bible as a gift. The day before the news of her death broke, one of Moorman's sons flipped through the bible and found a passage she wrote on one of the pages: "May God's Word have the final say in every decision you make."

"She certainly pointed people to Jesus and radiated his love," Moorman said. "She did what she talked about and risked her life. She trusted the Lord and put her life in his hands. I'm looking forward to the day when we will see her again."

Cory Braatz recalled Gariety's encouragement and guidance not only as his Sunday School teacher during his youth, but also as a friend when he was deciding about a seminary. While many pressured him to go to seminary, Braatz remembered Gariety encouraging him to be a pastor for a couple of year before he was sure of what God called him to do fulltime. Braatz, who now pastors Como Community Church in Lake Geneva, took her advice and later completed seminary.

"To thank Kathy is not a difficult thing for me," he said, holding back tears. "It's an easy thing. Thank you, Kathy, for giving to the Lord. I'm one life that was changed."

By Pauline C.