Kathryn Keppel Votruba


Kathryn Keppel, 1926

Courtesy of the Holland Museum Archives


Kathryn Keppel (April 20, 1904-September 29, 1946), called Kay by her family, was the second youngest daughter of Albert and Kate Keppel. She graduated from Hope College in 1926 with her teaching certificate. Moving to a small mining town in the upper peninsula of Michigan, she taught drama and debate at the local high school. In 1928, she toured Europe alongside her sister Vera.

After moving away from Holland upon graduating from Hope, Kay was always writing home. The family's collection contains numerous letters, most of which are from Kay. She wrote almost every day at one point, telling her parents about the latest debate match, play or what she was doing at home. Her letters always include little drawings, sketched in the margins.

She got a job at Traverse City High School upon returning from Europe and moved there in 1928. There she taught English and drama. Her younger sister Lois joined her in Traverse City a year later. Soon after she moved to Traverse City, she met Bill Votruba, whom she married on September 6, 1930. She had three children: William Keppel (b. 1934), Evelyn Kay (b. 1938), and David Christian (b. 1944). Tragically, Kathryn died in her sleep on September 29, 1946 at the age of 42.

  Contact: Madalyn Muncy

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Scholars Program at Hope College, Holland, Mich.

Madalyn Muncy, 2012