Ilona 'Kitty' Larson — Rochester

Ilona Katherine Larson, known to many as "Kitty," 70, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Rochester on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.

Kitty was born in McPherson, Kan., on Aug. 20, 1945, to Tibor and Vendla Rozsa. She grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., with elder siblings, Judith (Ferlemann) and Nicholas (Rozsa). Upon graduating from Southwest High School in Minneapolis, Kitty attended Macalester College in St. Paul, where she graduated with a teaching degree in 1967. Upon graduation from college, Kitty began a 34-year teaching career in the Rochester School District, where she taught fourth grade at Sunset Terrace and Title I at Gage Elementary school, among other assignments.

Kitty married Wayne Larson on Dec. 19, 1970, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. The couple resided in Country Club Manor, where they made their first home, and eldest son, Steven, joined the family in 1975. In 1976, the family welcomed daughter, Andrea. Then, in 1977, they moved to Oronoco Township. In 1980-1981, the family temporarily moved to Burlington, Va., while Wayne furthered his education and career with IBM. Upon return to Rochester, the family once again expanded with the addition of son, Thomas, in 1982. In 1984, the family relocated to Endicott, N.Y., for a 10-month assignment through Wayne's employment with IBM.

Kitty continued teaching, and retired in 2001 after 34 years of service. Kitty often said teaching fulfilled her when she was with a student and she was able to witness their "a-ha" moment of comprehension. A dedicated and devoted teacher, she aided many students in reaching their academic potential. Upon retirement, Kitty and Wayne were able to travel much of the United States via truck and camper, enjoying many of the beautiful national parks and monuments, including visits to Denali National Park, and extensive travel throughout the southwestern states. During this time of travel, Kitty and Wayne fell in love with Arizona's natural beauty, and they purchased a "snow bird" home in Casa Grande, Ariz., where Kitty immersed herself in the local culture and community. It was while living in Arizona that Kitty discovered the intricate art of hand-beading dried gourds, for which she received many awards, and her work was featured in a magazine advertisement for a bead supplier.

Kitty was an active member at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, where she served as Sunday School

coordinator, as Vestry member, in the Prayer Shawl Ministry, in Cursillo, in the alter guild, and offered assistance with Vacation Bible School. In addition to her devotion to her church, Kitty was a doting and loving grandmother to son Tom's daughter, Alexandra, and daughter Andrea's two sons, Benjamin and Lawson. Grandmother and grandchildren enjoyed spending time together baking and attempting various sewing and craft projects. An avid reader, Kitty passed along her love of literature to her children and grandchildren. Kitty will be remembered for her devotion to her family and church, her easy laugh and smile, and her ever-patient listening ears and arms always ready to give a supportive hug.

Kitty was preceded in death by her parents, Tibor and Vendla Rozsa.

Kitty is survived by her husband of 45 years, Wayne; eldest son, Steven Larson of Milwaukee, Wis.; son, Thomas Larson of New Orleans, La., and granddaughter, Alexandra Larson of Ann Arbor, Mich.; daughter, Andrea Baldwin (Adam) of Des Moines, Iowa, and their children, Benjamin, Lawson, Drake and Layla.

Services will be Saturday, Feb. 20 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church at 10 a.m. (visitation), followed

by a memorial service at 11 a.m., with a luncheon to follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials in Kitty's memory be made to the St. Luke's Capital Campaign.

To share a special memory or condolence, please visit Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, Rochester.