Remembering Kathryn “Kitty” Obenshain


A beloved emeritus music professor, Kathryn “Kitty” Obenshain, died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. She taught studio piano, piano classes, organ and ear training at Radford University.

Through her efforts, she developed a Faculty Music Scholarship Fund, supported by a Faculty Scholarship Benefit Recital Series.

“It was gradually built from nothing but admission fees to the Faculty Benefit Recitals, and subsequently nominal admission fees to other selected music department concerts and recitals,” said Eugene Fellin, chair of the Department of Music at that time. “Kitty and I were able to convince the Foundation to allow an Endowment to be gradually built until the $10,000 minimum was reached to actually establish an endowed Music Scholarship Fund.”

Relentless in her efforts, Obenshain saw the fund reach its initial $10,000 goal, and the scholarship became a reality. Later she would have another scholarship named in her honor – the Dr. Kathryn Garland Obenshain Music Scholarship.

In addition, she founded and directed the Bartok Piano Competition, which started as a regional event. It became an International Competition when Gyorgy Sandor agreed to assume the role of Finals Judge. It then continued as Bartok-Kabalevsky and then Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev for 20 years, with Caryl Conger assuming the Directorship upon Kitty's retirement.

“She was a wonderful teacher, admired by our faculty and students alike, and was one of the most caring individuals who influenced thousands of students during her time here at Radford University,” said Al Wojtera, chair of the Department of Music.

After she retired, Obenshain became resident composer for the university’s Opera Ensemble, writing six operas for children. Because she was familiar with the public schools in this region, she also scheduled fall tours for the program. This reached approximately 2000 students at four schools and on campus.

There will be a memorial service at the Christiansburg Presbyterian Church April 1, 2017, at 11 a.m., followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall.

Feb 16, 2017
Leslie King