Kathryn (Kate) Vonderau

September 26, 1927 ~ August 10, 2022 (age 94)


Kathryn Vonderau (Kate) was born September 1927, to Carl and Emma Vonderau of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She joined her two older brothers Kenneth and Raymond. The family lived in south Fort Wayne. Kate was a baptized member of Zion Lutheran Church. She attended Zion Lutheran Elementary School and graduated from South Side High School in 1945.

                While in high school, Kate played for several local softball teams. One of the teams she played for was sponsored by a local restaurant. The owner of the restaurant was also a scout for professional baseball and recommended Kate try out for possible membership. At his urging, she tried out and was accepted into the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League where she became a catcher playing for the Fort Wayne Daisies. She signed her first professional contract at the age of nineteen. She played eight seasons for several different teams. She is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for AAGPBL.

                In 1953, Kate began attending Indiana University. She graduated with a BS degree in physical education. She taught elementary school in both Fort Wayne and Chicago. She returned to Indiana University earning her masters degree in education. She taught at several public schools in Indiana. She then enrolled in the University of Iowa; she began teaching at University of Wisconsin in Whitewater. She was the department head and researched ways to improve the teaching of physical education. In 1996 she was awarded the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award. She was one of the founding members of Wisconsin Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

                Kate bought a lake house in upstate Indiana where she loved to water ski and fish. Family and friends enjoyed many summers there at her special retreat. Kate retired in 1988 and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she enjoyed the warmer climate. She was an active member of Christ Lutheran Church and loved singing hymns. During retirement Kate enjoyed traveling, spending time with friends, and was an avid golfer. She played in several golf leagues forming lasting friendships.

                In 2014, health changes prompted her and her schnauzer, Missy, to leave Albuquerque and move to Washington state to be closer to family. She became a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Puyallup. She continued to be involved in activities while in senior assisted living homes. Kate loved animals and had several schnauzers through her lifetime.

                Despite her physical challenges of blindness and being wheelchair bound she participated in exercise classes, played blackjack, and went to social activities. She loved visiting with friends and maintained phone contact with distant friends. Kate passed away on August 10, 2022. She is survived by nephews Steve and Richard as well as four great nieces and nephews, and five great great nieces and nephews. We will miss her determination and enthusiasm for life. Kate will be laid to rest in the family plot in Concordia Gardens in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

                After Kate’s retirement from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Dr. Dianne Jones formed the Vonderau/Clark scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Kate Vonderau and Dr. M. Corinne (Corky) Clark. Both had been heads of the department of physical education.

                In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Scroll to Vonderau Clark Scholarship.

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