Kate Svitek Memorial Foundation
Kate Svitek Memorial Foundation

From Loved Ones & Friends

Letter from Kathy Elias

It seems ironic to me that the last time I spoke with Kate we spent an absurd amount of time recounting our college days and all of the crazy, yet fun, moments that we spent together. Although these stories were undoubtedly funnier to us, I hope that you can enjoy them as much as we did.

Kate and I took part in a variety of activities during our sophomore year. After deciding that crew was not the sport for her, she attempted to involve herself in other club sports as well as other activities. As goes without saying, I was brought along for the ride. Kate started with rugby. This plan failed miserably when she realized how much running was involved (we all know how much she despised running). The fact that the majority of the team had a strange resemblance to Hulk Hogan also weighed heavily in our decision not to pursue rugby. Next, we moved on to ultimate Frisbee, which seemed like such a good idea. There was only one problem: we quickly learned that neither of us could adequately catch or throw a Frisbee. After much deliberation, we decided that we should bag sports and move on to community service. Who could be bad at community service? We tried volunteering with Special Olympics and were unsuccessful. The athletes hated us. As a matter of fact, one of the athletes threw tantrums anytime I would approach him, which would make Kate hysterical. We decided it was in everyone's best interest if we discontinued. Our next venture was called Pets Helping People and as part of this program UVM students took rescued greyhounds into nursing homes. Unfortunately, this program was abruptly ended (having nothing to do with the two of us) and we were left wondering what to do. After our string of misfortunes, Kate and I filled our days with visiting the cows at the UVM farm, going hiking, and attempting to have a healthy social life. Finally, we were successful!

In the beginning of our sophomore year, Kate invited me to attend a function held on campus in honor of one of the Jewish holidays. There were speakers, prayers, and a dinner complete with homemade Jewish food as well as myriad bottles of Manishewitz. Kate and I made it our mission to sample each bottle and were nearly successful when one of the girls sitting at our table calmly told us we had had enough. With too much wine in our bellies, Kate and I agreed that it was time to go home.

Kate and I also took part in illegal activities during our sophomore year including grand theft auto. One day, Kate somehow convinced me that it would be a good idea to "borrow" our friend Abby's car to drive down to Middlebury to watch Jessica play volleyball. Abby had gone away for the weekend and foolishly left her car keys hanging on the wall of her unlocked dorm room. Kate and I took full advantage of this and made our way to Middlebury. Almost halfway through our journey, we spotted two police cars pulled over on the side of the road. Kate began to panic in the only way she knew how- loudly and dramatically. She was convinced that the police cars were creating a roadblock to capture the two fugitives driving a stolen vehicle. I couldn't help but laugh at this preposterous idea of Kate's and my laughing only made her more hysterical. Obviously, the police were not interested in us and we continued. On our way home from the volleyball game, Kate and I decided that it would only be logical to continue joyriding in our "borrowed" vehicle and even stop off for a bite to eat. After safely returning the car to the UVM parking lot, we vowed to never tell any of our friends about our adventure and we never did.

At some point during our sophomore year Kate and I began talking about marriage and weddings. Kate told me that she had never been a flower girl in a wedding. I promised her that if or when I got married she could be my flower girl. As so often happened, Kate did not believe me. Within minutes, Kate had drawn up a contract and we both signed on the dotted line. Two years later, Kate came waltzing into my room with the tattered contract in her hand. "Don't think I've forgotten about this," she says waving the paper in front of my face. All I could do was laugh. For the next hour or so, Kate cringed while I described the poofy-sleeved, lacey dress I would make her wear as the flower girl in my wedding.

Possibly the funniest memory I have of Kate occurred one day while Kate was attempting to wax her arms. As I'm sure you know Kate was always trying new and occasionally outlandish products to rid her arms and legs of hair. On this particular day, Kate was waxing her arms with an extremely sticky, tan substance. She applied the wax and waited as the directions indicated. When she attempted to remove the wax with soap and water nothing happened. She tried soap and water a second time. Again, nothing happened. Her third effort included scrubbing her arms with peanut butter as the directions mentioned that oil was also an effective means of removing the wax. At this point, our roommate Katherine came home from class and found Kate in the bathroom with her arms covered in a strange mixture of wax and peanut butter and her hand deep inside the peanut butter jar. To this day, I am unsure of how the two of them finally managed to get the wax off Kate's arms. The only thing that I am certain of is that in Kate's effort to remove the wax she had spread it throughout the bathroom. When I was in the bathroom, hours after this episode, my hand got stuck not only to the faucet handle but also to the side of the sink, the doorknob, the side of the toilet, and the wall of the shower. Kate had left her mark.

The bathroom seemed to provide an arena for many laughs. On several occasions I would hear Kate calling me to the bathroom to bring her additional reading material. When she would tell me about different resorts, fun cities, or countries to visit I would often joke with her that she didn't need to go to class because she learned more in the bathroom than anywhere else.

Anyone that knew Kate would agree that she had an uncanny knack for losing everything. Kate, however, would never admit to misplacing her belongings she would rather say that they were stolen. At least three times a week Kate would state that she had been robbed. More often than not, we would find the "stolen" item within minutes and with the catastrophe solved, life would go back to normal. On this particular day, Kate arrived home after a trip to Blockbuster swearing up and down that she had been pick pocketed. Her credit card was missing. After searching her car, her jacket, and her room to no avail I began to believe that Kate truly had been pick pocketed. While Kate was on the phone canceling her credit card, I walked into the bathroom (yes, once again the bathroom) and found the stolen card lying on the floor. It turns out that the credit card had fallen out of her back pocket while she was in the bathroom. It was as a result of this event that Kate decided she should really make an effort to use her wallet more often. Well, this would have been a good plan if Kate had always remembered to put the wallet in the car. One afternoon, in probably mid-November, Kate dragged me to a garage sale down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to search for a coffee table. Although we did not find a coffee table we did manage to find an old neon beer sign that we decided that we just had to have. After packing the beer sign safely in the backseat and driving most of the distance back to Burlington, we decided to stop at a sandwich shop for lunch. To our dismay, Kate's wallet was nowhere in the car. Hungry and tired Kate and I dreaded driving back to the garage sale to reclaim her wallet. For some strange reason, perhaps she was slightly gifted with ESP, Kate walked to the back of the car and found her wallet sitting on the corner of her back bumper. She had forgotten to put her wallet back in the car. The two of us stood and stared in sheer amazement that it had not fallen off the back of the car. Kate's next move would be to buy a purse.

One of Kate's greatest talents was, of course, acting. The harder I laughed, the longer the act would continue. Her favorite personality to display was a young, southern belle: accent and all. She would stand in the middle of the kitchen wildly waving her arms depicting a scene from the days of the Civil War. (I can't even write this because the thought of it is making me laugh too hard!) From time to time, she would throw herself on the floor pounding her fists into the carpet. She would have made it big in Hollywood!

Another one of Kate's hidden talents was head butting. She head butted nearly everyone with authority and pride. From the opposite side of the room or hallway, you could see her get into position and you knew you were in trouble. Bent over, grunting, and running like a madwoman, she would ram her head into any part of your body, back up and do it again. Some people may have seen this scene unfold and thought Kate was a raving lunatic, but to those of us that knew Kate it was just one of those fun quirks that made her Kate.

Kate thrived on being in the outdoors and riding her bike was one of her favorite activities. Kate would often ask me if I wanted to go on a short bike ride with her. I quickly learned that short to Kate meant a twenty mile journey up and down hills, around the bike path, and through the woods. Kate would fly down the hills thoroughly enjoying the rush and the wind whipping by her. She had no fear. On the other hand, as Kate went flying by me, I would be holding on for dear life, praying that I would make it home safely. On one of our trips, Kate's bike got a flat tire. We were close to ten miles away from home. Instead of calling one of our friends to come and pick us up, Kate insisted on walking the bike back home. She claimed that otherwise she would not have gotten her exercise for the day. Left with no other choice, I agreed and we walked the bikes back home.

During our senior year, Kate and I decided that we needed to learn how to snowboard. We agreed that it would be foolish to have spent four years in snowy Vermont and not have taken advantage of the beautiful mountains that surrounded us. Kate signed us up for lessons at a local mountain and we were on our way to becoming professional snowboarders. Kate's athleticism and persistence really paid off during our first few weeks as novice snowboarders. I was lucky if I could stay on my feet for more than a few minutes and as I tumbled down the mountain I would watch Kate fly by me with ease. It seemed as if Kate had been snowboarding for months if not years.

Our first day snowboarding was a nightmare for me. As we approached the mountain and it got bigger and bigger, the thought of going down it got scarier and scarier. Kate, my fearless leader, calmed me down and pointed out the five-year-olds that were successfully making it down the mountain. "If they can do it, I'm sure that you can too," she would say.

As the day went on, Kate got bored with the bunny slope and suggested that we move on to bigger and better trails, which we did. Actually going down the mountain was not the biggest problem for us. It seemed that neither of us could get off the chair lift and each time we attempted it became more and more disastrous. While preparing to dismount from the lift, Kate and I would either link arms or grab on to each other's jackets. I suppose the logic in this was that if one of us began to fall, the other was most certainly going down as well. Inevitably, we fell: almost every time. On several occasions the lift operators would have to stop the chair lift so that the two of us, rolling around in the snow and giggling like idiots, could get out of the way of more serious snowboarders. Not long after I began, my snowboarding days ended. Kate, however, made it her mission to perfect her snowboarding skills and accomplished exactly what she had set out to do.

Kate's love for the outdoors led me, on one occasion, to believe that she had actually lost her mind. It was January or February of our junior year and one of our friends mentioned how fun it would be to jump in Lake Champlain. Kate agreed. Before I knew what was happening, Kate and Jill had changed into their "lake jumping" gear and we were all making our way to the shores of Lake Champlain. Once there, the two of them sluggishly made their way to the water. Jill was in and out within a minute. Kate, however, jumped in and actually swam around for a few minutes. When I asked her if the water was freezing she replied, "No, it was actually quite refreshing." Only Kate.

Kate also loved to cook. More often than not, I would come home from class to the delicious aromas of one of Kate's gourmet meals. In the beginning of the year, Kate suggested that each of the roommates choose two nights when they would cook dinner. This plan went out the window when Kate deemed the meals we cooked inedible. We settled on a new plan of action; Kate would cook dinner and I would wash the dishes. This turned out to be a much more satisfying experience for everyone.

Kate once told me that when she was a little girl she liked to pack her own lunch for school. She found it quite entertaining that on one particular day her lunch was made up of five navel oranges. Nothing else, just oranges. How she could go from eating a bag of oranges for lunch to sushi and bean sprouts I never could understand!

Thanksgiving dinner was one of Kate's favorite meals to prepare. In order to make Thanksgiving dinner a success it was mandatory for us to receive a free Price Chopper turkey. The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were hectic as Kate tracked exactly how much money we needed to spend in order to get our free turkey. I honestly think we spent more money at the grocery store in the weeks prior to Thanksgiving than we did the rest of the year.

During our senior year, the quest for the free turkey got a little out of hand and we actually ended up with two. Rather than letting the second free turkey go to waste, Kate cooked both of them. She had one turkey in our oven and the other in the boys' oven upstairs. We all had a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Kate, with two turkeys and all the trimmings.

Kate never was a big fan of watching television, she always preferred to be outdoors. There was, however, one exception and that was Julia Child's cooking show. As a matter of fact, Kate once watched (and I will admit that I did as well) the biography on Julia Child for four straight hours, laughing the entire time. "Kathy, she hits the fish with an axe," she screamed. Watching an old woman bent over a hunk of fish methodically whacking it with "an axe" provided hours of pure entertainment for Kate.

"To the world, you may just be another person, but to another person, you may just be the world."


To me, Kate was the world. Kate was confident and determined, she was sympathetic and caring, she was energetic and adventurous, she was intelligent and she had a worldliness about her that could not be matched. She was an amazing individual who I admired with all of my being. Each day with Kate was a new and exciting adventure chock full of laughs and surprises. Kate lived her life with an enthusiasm and zest that was unprecedented. Kate was a very special person not only to me, but also to everyone she met and made an impact on.

I remember toward the end of our senior year in college when Kate asked me if she could be the honorary aunt to my children. It seemed silly to me that she even had to ask. We made a pact at that time that we would never lose touch with each other and we would always remain the best of friends. I will honor that pact forever.

A few months ago Kate sent me a card just to say hi. The inside of the card says, "In all the universe, there's no one quite like you." When speaking of Kate, truer words were never spoken.

I will miss Kate with all of my heart, but I know she will always be with us. We will always have the memories.

Kathy Elias

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