Mary Kathryn Fridley Lawrence Van Sant



Mary Kathryn in 1930, on the lap of her grandfather Melville Lewis Johnson. Grandmother Ida Johnson is holding her younger brother Richard.
Mary Kathryn, about 1945 Mary Kathryn, about 1952


Mary Kathryn, about 1945 Mary Kathryn, about 1970, at home in Hinton Mary Kathryn, 1999, with sister Barbara at Pence Springs


Mary Kathryn Fridley was born in Summers Co, WV on 14 May 1927, the oldest child of Roy Gordon and Alta Ruth (Johnson) Fridley. She grew up in Summers Co., married in Summers Co., and raised three children there.

I always knew her as "Mary Kat", or just "Kat", my father's older sister. Growing up, we liked going to Kat's house in Hinton since we got to visit with our cousins, and Kat usually let us do whatever we wanted to do! She had a big house on Main Street with lots of rooms to play in. Later, when she took the job as financial secretary for the West Virginia State Prison for Women at Pence Springs, we visited her at her home there, where there were pigs and animals and woods to go explore. We often made the trip to Pence Springs from Washington, DC after my family moved there, and it was a usual destination for Thanksgiving.

As I got older, I saw Kat less, but remember several wonderful summers I spent with relatives in southern West Virginia that included stays at her house. She toured me around the prison, told me stories of the inmates, and arranged for friends to take me around while she was working (when I wasn't otherwise hitchhiking!)

Kat was a voracious reader, and my last images of her was sitting in her living room on Greenbrier Drive in Hinton curled up in the corner of the couch reading a book. In 1999, at the 40th birthday party for my sister and brother--held most appropriately at Pence Springs (no longer a prison, but a resort!), Kat came with her family and we all partied and talked until late into the night. I never thought that would be my last visit with her, and I miss her dearly today.

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