Katherine Nicoll Frey, 92, was born on February 13, 1931, to the late Scott and Maude Nesbit Nicoll in York, PA where she lived for 20 years. Her mother grew up on a farm in Wellsville, PA and became a teacher at age eighteen. Her father was born and raised on the island of Maui and became a mechanical engineer. She had a happy and interesting childhood, especially during World War II years. Her family was much involved in politics and social justice, especially the rights of women and historically marginalized groups. She remained a passionate advocate throughout her life for these groups and was a lifetime donor to Southern Poverty Law Center.
Katherine loved physical activity. In high school, she was a majorette in the two time State Championship High School band, a group rewarded for their success by being invited to perform for the Philadelphia Eagles football team in Philadelphia. American Magazine published an article about this outstanding high school band. Dance was a large part of Katherine’s life. At Penn State, she served as President of the Modern Dance Club. Upon graduation with a degree in Physical Education, she was hired by Drexel University to teach dance. While in Philadelphia, she danced briefly with the Philadelphia Opera Company. Katherine's first job was directing the Bethlehem Red Cross summer swimming program. At Drexel, she coached the women's swim team for several years. Synchronized swimming became an interest and she developed teams at Drexel, the YWCA, and Upper Merion HS where she choreographed synchronized swim shows. Her big love was teaching beginner swimming, especially seeing the delight of a successful lap across deep water in the eyes of her students.
While at Drexel, Kathy was promoted from Instructor to Assistant Director of Physical Education, where she remained for over 25 years. When she first arrived at Drexel in 1953, there were no co-ed Physical Education classes. By the time she left in 1996, they were all co-ed. Kathy taught the first co-ed Physical Education class at Drexel, fencing, and was a member of the Wellness program development group.
Katherine enjoyed many interests. She loved sewing and knitting, from clothes to dolls to creative scarves, and took part in various Craft Fairs. Scrapbooking was another hobby. She has made each of her children and grandchildren scrapbooks about their lives and family history. History was of great interest to her, mostly of family, WWII, and the Holocaust, and she has collected a large library on the subjects, as well as scrapbooks she made with newspapers she collected of important events.
Because her father was born and raised on Maui, Hawai’i, this was one of her favorite destinations. Her great uncle planted the first 30 acres of pineapples on Maui and has developed an arboretum, Pu'u Mahoe, which is a seed bank for disappearing Native Hawaiian plants. A lifelong passionate advocate for the Native Hawaiian people, she gave presentations to second graders at Mountain View for many years, with her adoring grandchildren watching intently.
Katherine has traveled to many countries and, besides Hawai’i, she found Israel, Russia, and Yugoslavia the most intriguing. She and family enjoyed camping across the USA in a VW camper. Her father wrote about his life on Maui and Katherine wrote about her life during the war and such so that family history will not be lost. She loved reading and writing, and took extreme care to preserve this family history.
Her husband of 63 years, Donald E. Frey, passed away in 2018. Surviving are her 3 daughters, Jennifer Dimmig and husband Douglas, Molly Virbitsky and Thomas, Nell Striefsky and Jim. Also her beloved grandchildren, Devin, and Darci Dimmig, Stephanie and husband Alex, Allison, Jeffrey and Lily Virbitsky, and Tyler and Sophia Striefsky; and several nieces and nephews. Her biggest joy was teaching her grandkids to swim and watching their activities such as sports, plays, and fun at the lake.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was also preceded in death by a beloved grandson: Kent Dimmig, and a brother: William Nicoll .
Upon retirement, Don and Kathy moved from Radnor, PA to Crystal Lake, PA. Katherine was a starting member of the Clifford Garden Club, and joined the Quilting group and Book Club. She also taught swimming at the lake and learned to water and downhill ski. Bananagrams was a staple, and she was always ready for a game no matter the time of day. Her vegetable garden provided delicious fresh picks for the table, and Manning’s Ice Cream was a favorite for dessert. She loved seeing her home at Crystal Lake used by her children and grandchildren for weddings, prom photos, and gatherings for friends and family. Always having the most welcoming, caring, and generous disposition, she made everyone that visited feel like they were a part of the family. She had many wonderful family, friends, and neighbors close by. Katherine Frey peacefully passed away on Thursday September 14, 2023 surrounded by her loving family who will cherish all the wonderful memories with her forever.
The family would like to thank Dr. Linda Thomas and Dr. Haitham Abughnia for their exceptional care throughout the years. In addition, we would like to convey our deep appreciation to Mary of Aveanna Home Health and Christina, Amy, and Pat from Traditional Hospice for going above and beyond in their care for our beloved mother.
A celebration of Katherine’s life will be held at a later date. Arrangements by the Brennan & Brennan Funeral Home, Inc., 55 Lincoln Avenue, Carbondale.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center at splcenter.org or Hawai’i's People Fund to benefit victims of the Maui wildfires at hawaiipeoplesfund.networkforgood.com/projects/200566-maui-aloha-the-people-s-response-fund