Sophia Kathryn Paxton Pressey, age 92, passed away peacefully on September 22 after a brief illness. Always a people person, she will be deeply missed by those who loved her. In her last days, her love of others and her love of the Lord were uppermost in her mind; she often repeated “I’m so blessed” and “I’m ready to go home.” She is preceded in death by her first and second husbands, Clinton Paxton and Bill Pressey. Her surviving relatives include her four children: Fred Paxton, Keith Paxton, Kathy Jones, and Susie Daniel.
Kathryn, or Katy, and her twin brother were born at home in 1927 in Redlands, California to Sophie and Fred Bangle. Named after her mother, Kathryn was the youngest of 9 children, Kathryn remained close to her family throughout her life. In her later years, she treasured memories of large family gatherings of siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces at her parents’ home.
At fifteen Kathryn married Clinton Lee Paxton before he left to serve in World War II. Upon his return home, they started their family. While her children were young, Kathryn filled her days with PTA meetings, playing piano for church and school, and—most memorably—family camping trips to places like Yosemite and Yellowstone. She would later laughingly tell of the time she “lost” her baby in the middle of the night when Susie rolled out of the tent, or the time she locked herself in the trailer when a bear visited the campsite—even though her children were still outside! Typically, however, Kathryn was a devoted mother and considered homemaking and motherhood her highest callings and greatest joys.
For years, Kathryn supported and helped Clint, who first worked in the tile business in San Bernardino and then owned Escondido Tile. Upon retirement, he and Kathryn traveled for many years in an RV, seeing the country and volunteering with the Mobile Missionary Assistance Program. In 2001 Kathryn suffered the loss of Clint after 59 years of marriage.
Kathryn and Clint have 10 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 1 great, great-grandchild. Kathryn loved them all and was never happier than when she was with them. Kathryn was always ready to go somewhere and do something. She loved taking her grandchildren on trips, playing Yahtzee with them, and exchanging stories. Later in life, she was never happier than when surrounded by her great-grandchildren. She treasured their tokens of love for her. At her 92nd birthday, one of her great-grandchildren remarked, “I love how Mema appreciates every little thing you do for her.”
Perhaps Kathryn appreciated little things so well because she herself was so generous. For much of her life, Kathryn was the one doing things for others. Kathryn’s home was always open; she hosted foreign exchange students as well as family Christmas celebrations and countless birthday parties. At one point she even picked up a family of hitchhikers! Kathryn’s warm spirit embraced many. Always, she loved good conversation and good company. She made friends wherever she went, sharing her interests and life stories with her characteristic lively spirit and attention to detail. She was still telling stories the day before her passing.
In 2004 Kathryn enjoyed a second marriage to Bill Pressey after being introduced to him by her older sister. Bill filled the loneliness in Kathryn’s life and the two of them lived together in happy companionship in Calimesa until Bill’s death in 2016 after which Kathryn returned to live near her family in Escondido.
Fittingly, Kathryn went to be with Jesus on a Sunday morning. Sunday was always the highlight of her week. For many years she served as a gifted church pianist, and always loved playing hymns. Her great love of church music was formed by her love of the Lord, which was the deepest and most lasting of the many great relationships that formed the fabric of her long life.