Catherine Haire Dillard, more affectionately known as Miz Kitty, was born in Macon, Ga., on Feb. 28, 1923, and was the daughter of Florine H. and Joseph C. Haire. She died on May 23, 2019 at home.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Florine Haire and Palmer Waters; her husband, William Broadus “W.B.” Dillard; sons, William Broadus “Little Bill” Dillard Jr., and Joseph Cooper Dillard; and daughter, Jane Austin Dillard.
She will be sorely missed by her daughters, Catherine Collins and Mary Miller (Ronnie); sons, Jim Dillard and Tom Dillard (Nancy); grandchildren, Georgia Miller and Will Miller; great-grandson, Brayden Miller; grandchildren, Ginny Holloway (Scott) and Phillip Armfield (Christina); great-grandchildren, Alex and Zach Holloway and Kayla and Madelynne Armfield; special niece, Cathy Chafin; and special cousin, Bobby Puryear.
Kitty graduated from A.L. Miller High School for Girls in Macon, Ga. She and W.B. married in 1941 and eventually settled in Jackson County, N.C., where she lived for more than 50 years before moving to Talbott, and then Knoxville, Tenn. She was a stay-at-home mom who rarely stayed at home; she supported her husband in many of his endeavors, including her being the chief cook and bottle washer at the Fryemont Inn during its rebirth as well as managing the Forest Hills Country Club when he started it. She owned and cavalierly operated The Paper Chase, a paperback book exchange, for a number of years.
Kitty’s tongue could be quite tart, but she was generous of heart and was very often the silent benefactor for those in less fortunate circumstances. W.B. and Kitty were instrumental in the building of the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva and were ardent supporters of the Fontana Regional Library Bookmobile. Kitty ardently served as a Trustee of Southwestern Community College from 1982 to 1995, where she was also a student taking computer, photography and woodworking classes. She volunteered in the SCC Adult Literacy Program, helping teach adults to learn how to read.
She was an avid reader, collector of books (and many other things), photographer, bird watcher, amazing cook and hostess, and absorber of facts. She was known for hosting an enormous table at Thanksgiving and Christmas which was set with people of all walks of life and from across the political spectrum. She was creative, innovative, and ahead of her time: she hated those metal glasses holders, so she used cotton shoestrings to keep her glasses around her neck (oh, for the patent on that!).
She famously “corrected” Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville lyrics to “Looking for my lost circular saw”; she spray painted all of her tools bright orange to be easily spotted if any miscreant “borrowed” them; and most notably, in the 1950s she mail-ordered and had seat belts installed in her vehicles to keep her children safe.
Miz Kitty loved to travel and almost fulfilled her goal of visiting every state in the Union (she decided the trip to Hawaii was just too long in an airplane). She truly loved Jekyll Island, Ga., where she and W.B. accidentally landed in 1964, and she spent as much time there as possible for the next 50 years.
Her family would like to thank her caregivers for the past few years: Alicia, Lisa, Brittany, Clementine, Deborah and Martha, and nurses Niki and Mike of Amedysis Hospice. She never failed to keep them entertained.
A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2019, at Keener Cemetery in Sylva, N.C., with a gathering of family and friends to follow at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Nancy Dillard, 50 Paw Paw Cove, Sylva, N.C. The family will also receive friends at Tom and Nancy’s home from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 14, where her family and friends will continue to look for her lost circular saw.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Southwestern Community College Foundation for The William B. and Catherine H. Dillard Endowed Scholarship at Southwestern Community College, 447 College Drive, Sylva, NC 28779 (online at www.southwesterncc.edu/foundation) or the charity of your choice; and plant some birch trees or daisies to enjoy for years to come (and please feed the birds).
An online registry is available at www.appalachianfuneralservices.com.