Holly (Fry '97) Young (right) reflects on her former RD, Kathy Gribbin, Ph.D. ('76) (left).

Kathy and I go way back. Well, I’ll clarify. We would lie on her bed in Brenneman and watch the OJ Simpson trial unfold on Court TV night after night. I lived across the hall from Kathy her first year as resident director in 1994. She knew how to win our hearts from the beginning  — spontaneous cookie nights in her apartment. There was something about eating Kathy’s cookies and watching Marcia Clark and Johnnie Cochran duke it out that brought us Brenneman girls together!

It was clear to me upon meeting Kathy that building relationships were a priority to her. More than once, when I lived across the hall and would open my door, Kathy had her door propped open and would shout, “Holly! What are you doing?” Engaging me is what she was doing. (The sheer volume of her voice had me laughing immediately.) She wanted me to know I mattered, that she took interest in me.

Kathy also demonstrated the impact a single woman can have on the world around her. I watched closely then, but it means even more to me now. Kathy was with me when I got married, walked with me through my divorce, and in observing her way of life, I’ve learned I am whole — with or without a spouse, with or without children — and that investing in others is where it’s at. (I also invest in the lives of dogs, but Kathy makes it clear to me she would prefer that my loyalty lie strictly with cats.)

Since her diagnosis with ovarian cancer, I have been in awe of the positive attitude and intense faith she has maintained. I think I know Kathy pretty well, but when she was struck with the news that her tumors were malignant, I realized I had no idea what this would do to her. How would she cope? This is how: she walks her four-mile route, makes vacation plans with friends, buys petunias for her garden and new dresses just because they’re pretty. Kathy embraces life with the same passion she did precancer. She overflows with enthusiasm for all things good. And it’s rubbing off on me.

Watch here as Kathy shows Holly the proper way to make her famous chocolate chip cookies: