In Memory

Kathy Harris**

Kathy, an adventurous soul who was passionate about learning, listening, travel and sailing on Lake Michigan, died at home in Chicago Feb. 1, 2020, after several months of fighting lung cancer.

  She had a wide circle of friends and an equally wide variety of interests: film club, theater, opera, Osher Lifelong Learning, the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her lifelong friendships reached back to grade school and to her first job, assistant letter reader for Ann Landers.

  Kathy was with us at HPHS until early during junior year when “my parents decided I needed a more structured environment due to the fact that I was a pretty wild teenager back in those days.” Next stop: Penn Hall School in Pennsylvania.

  She grew up on North Deere Park Drive and went to Braeside, where she formed deep friendships with classmates. “Kathy was my first friend at Braeside School, when I moved to Highland Park in the middle of fifth grade,” says Susan Firestone Hahn. “She had a beautiful, generous spirit about her--a pure, good heart. When we met again decades later, she remained the same as she was then. Some people remain forever so positive in our minds.”

  The family’s roots were in St. Paul, Minn., where she was born. Her father, Neison, and his brother, Irving B. Harris, founded Toni Home Permanent (“Which Twin Had The Toni?”) in an old schoolhouse in Forest Lake, Minn., in 1944 and sold it to Gillette in 1948.

  Kathy was “the epitome of welcoming, warm friendship and fun,” remembers Braeside classmate Sandy Looney Maun. “She and I grew taller more quickly than our fellow Braesiders and spent several years joined at the hip as the giants among little people!  So thankful to have not been alone with that distinction! 

  “Her life and family seemed glamorous and sophisticated and warm and welcoming too. I vividly remember meeting Debbie Reynolds at her home back when we were so much younger and Debbie was not yet as famous as she became.  

  “Time and distance caused us to lose touch but she came back into my life when I lived in Evanston and we each had young children.  Then again, time and distance changed things.  I'll always be grateful for her part in my life.”

  After high school Kathy studied at the University of Arizona until 1960 when she married John Friend. They had three children. The marriage ended in divorce and Friend died in 1992.

  For 30-plus years her partner was Bob Jendra, a photographer, businessman and sailor who shared what she called her “wonderlust.” They want to Antarctica and took grandchildren to Africa. He died in 2013.

  Surviving are her children, Pam Friend Szokol, William (Linda) Friend and Scott (Leslie) Friend; her dear brother, King (Caryn) Harris; her sister and best friend, Toni (Ron) Paul; and 10 grandchildren: Kimberly, Elizabeth and William Szokol; Nina, Jack and Matthew Friend; Tynan, Olivia, Ben and Gemma Friend.