Kathryn Vlora Briggs
Mar 13, 2016
Kathryn Briggs (Jensen) was born in a rural township in Southern Minnesota and grew up in a small, rustic but loving home that lacked electricity or running water. As the second-born and only girl among five siblings, she played a strong role in maintaining the family household and small farm. Hardships of the Depression era shaped her character to be strong, industrious, determined and devoted to family and faith. Life on the farm wasn’t all hardship, however; it’s where she learned to play 500 from her parents and was an ace pitcher on the neighborhood kitten ball team.
As a student in Jackson High School, she developed her desire to become a nurse and eventually graduated from the nurse education program at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul. During her time at Ancker she witnessed, among other things, the introduction of penicillin. She went on to become a very skilled RN who remained fiercely dedicated to the comfort and healing of her patients. Stories of specific patients stayed with her the rest of her life.
Shortly after graduating from nursing school, Kathryn married Alfred “Skip” Briggs, an Englishman and sergeant in the U.S. Army. Thus began the happiest years of her life, as a wife and eventual mother of three who also practiced nursing to augment the family income earned by Skip, who owned a barbershop in Fairmont.
Kathryn was a devoted wife and mother to Skip and their children. They both delighted in their children, instilled in them a love of language and learning, and made many sacrifices to give them a better life than they had known. The Briggs clan has remained close to Kathryn’s extended Jensen family to this day.
She was known for her intelligence and formidable, dry sense of humor, which stayed with her to her last days on earth. Her stealth humor and loving presence were hallmarks of her personality.
A deep and enduring faith in God inspired her life of service—to the patients she cared for and to the affairs of her church. She was a star among her fellow church ladies, serving innumerable banquets, youth group activities and funerals for grieving families and guests with her famous bread, buns and cinnamon roles, among other dishes. She taught Sunday school was an active member of the Ladies Aid, a Bible study, service and social group. Her family suffered the tension of getting the house in pristine condition for hosting Ladies Aid or dinner with Pastor Conradson and his wife.
Other parts of Kathryn’s life of service included starting quilting groups that made and donated hundreds upon hundreds of quilts to such global aid organizations as Lutheran World Relief and others. Asked why this was so important to her, she would reply that she liked to imagine a person in great need somewhere out in the world wrapping herself in the warmth and comfort of one of her quilts.
She was also accomplished in the art of crochet, making dozens of afghans for friends and families to use baby gifts. While she lived in Texas she crocheted and donated several hundred sets of baby caps and booties to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. She said she couldn’t stand knowing that some of the infants came from parents so poor their babies were discharged wearing nothing more than a diaper.
She became close to the staff that cared for her at the Presbyterian Home in Spring Park and often told friends and family how much love she felt from them. They respected her dignity and appreciated her playful nature and great sense of humor, all while keeping her strong coffee addiction well supplied, even though they seemed baffled when she often would add a dash of salt to her cup of coffee and to cantaloupe.
She lived a quietly remarkable life, leaving her family and friends with a painful sense of loss when she finally went on to her extravagantly blissful eternal life on March 13, 2016 at the age of 92.
Mass of Christian Burial 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, 2385 Commerce Blvd., Mound. Visitation 10-11 a.m. prior to Mass at church. Private interment at Ft. Snelling. Memorials preferred to St. Catherine University Nursing Program scholarship fund.