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Kathy (Kathleen Lynch) Piper

Updates Added:

  • Date for “Celebration of Life”
    • Sunday, June 4, 2023
    • Can also “Stream it Live”
    • … and view recorded “Stream” afterward  (details at end)
  • Beautiful Additions (added at end)

Kathy Piper passed away peacefully on January, 27, 2023 at the age of 79.  To know her was to love her.  She was predeceased by her first husband, Richard DeRue, nephew Keith Baika, and sister Patricia Maier.  She is survived by her husband Travis Piper (Victor), sons Brian DeRue (Jane) (Fairport), and grandchildren Jake, Connor and Riley, and David DeRue (Julie) (Canandaigua) and grandsons Nathan, Devon and Tyler. Stepsons Brett (Jennifer) (Springfield, MO) and Brian (Jennifer) (Fairport) and step-grandchildren Anthony, Michael, Patrick and Peter Pellittiere, and Elizabeth and Adam Piper.  Siblings Ray (Terry) Lynch, Mary Rogers (Ron Shafer), Terri Solberg and Peggy Khan (Kevin Pyles) and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Who Was Kathy Piper?

Kathy Piper made her final exit from life’s stage as mother, wife, sibling and friend to everyone she met at the age of 79.  The date was January 27, 2023 in Penfield, New York She had been moved to three different facilities in the past three years as her Alzheimer’s progressed.

She was born on November 19, 1943 to Jack and Lorraine Lynch in Brockton, Massachusetts.   She was the eldest of six siblings (Ray, Pat, Mary, Terri and Peggy) and would often “volunteer” them to be in performances for the neighbors in the family’s back yard.  She attended Mercy High School and … you guessed it, more performances.  She married Dick DeRue in 1964.  They built a home in Penfield where she debuted two sons, Brian and David, and volunteered as a driver for Perinton Ambulance and joined Penfield Players – more performances.  Besides involvement in the Players’ performances (some were a little bit naughty), the Penfield Players “girls” made such delicacies as a “box cake” — with the box in it, and a special treat …  “penis cookies”!  Kathy served as the President of Penfield Players in1974-1975.

In 1976, Travis Piper–recently separated as his wife took their sons Brett and Brian off to … wait for it …  Dogpatch, Arkansas!  The born-again bachelor auditioned for the Penfield Players role of the Priest on the Pornographic Film Review Board in the show “The Mind with the Dirty Man”.  Kathy was producing that show.  Time passed, she divorced and the couple moved to a hilltop in Bristol where a long-time friend recommended they see Monsignor Schnacky at St. Catherine’s Church in Mendon about getting married.  They made an appointment, stopped into his office, explained they were two divorced Catholics in love and that they wanted to marry.  He reached for his calendar and asked “when”?  The wedding was on October 12, 1979 attended by a few family members and friends and Monsignor and his German Shepard Heidi.  For two years, the couple settled in with the boys (had all 4 with them in the summers), enrolled Brian and David in Bloomfield Schools and Kathy got a job there as a teacher’s aide to be close to her boys.

Her love for children inspired her and her friend Carol to go to “Clown School” to learn to be clowns.  She even dressed David, her youngest, as her “sidekick”.  Her clown name was Shamrock and his was Stem.  At one time Kathy and Carol skated with the Rochester Amerks in the downtown outdoor ice rink.

On weekends, the boys were with their dad.  Kathy and Travis attended mass at St. Catherine’s.  Occasionally there was a notice in the bulletin:  “have you invited the Priest to dinner lately?”  So the couple invited Monsignor Schnacky to dinner.  During dinner he asked how they met and they answered “through community theater”.   The next weekend they were sitting in church (in the new Community Center– because Monsignor’s ever-increasing throngs wouldn’t fit into the chapel any more)  Kathy picked up a bulletin on the chair beside her and was aghast, no shocked, perhaps even astounded to read that “Travis and Kathy Piper have volunteered to put on a play here at St. Catherine’s”.  That was 42 years ago and every year since the Monsignor Schnacky Community Players have put on a show for well over 1,500 attendees. Kathy and Travis said many times that the “Schnacky Players” were the best thing that ever happened to them beyond their faith and family.  Kathy was the heart and soul of the group and is still referred to as the “Best Director Ever”.  Kathy knew theater, but more importantly, she knew people and how to help them to be their best.  One of her friends commented that “She let the person’s personality shine!”  An interesting dichotomy was that she did not like being the center of attention.  She would never agree to announcing a birthday or anniversary while attending Church, even when Fr. Rob was asking for “good news”.

As the boys aged out of Elementary school, Kathy got a job with an attorney in Rochester whom Travis had cast in a Penfield Players show that he directed earlier.  That job turned into becoming the Grants Director for a Foundation.  Kathy would visit inner city organizations that had applied for grants. One visit was to a day care center.  Kathy sat on the floor with the staffers and children and a small girl climbed up in her lap.  The girl was burning up with fever.  Kathy asked “why isn’t she at home?”  The response: “She’s safer here”.  Many experiences like this made her want to love everyone even more.  When the 4-year “can of worms” highway construction project began, Kathy left the law firm due to consistently unpredictable traffic patterns that interfered with her being home when the boys got home from school.

She enrolled at Finger Lakes Community College and completed an Associates degree in Computer Science and …. wait for it….  Theater!  Of course she “aced” all of her classes (except for tennis as she readily admitted she never had any “ball sense”)

She became a Technical Writer for Travis’ company Creative Approaches, Inc. that was creating online training programs for Fortune 500 companies across North America.  She was excellent.  She would read the manual, learn the content, then write screen-by-screen explanations interspersed with interactions (questions and software simulations) about the material just explained. Literally thousands of students throughout North America learned parts of their jobs from training programs Kathy wrote.

Her sons, Brian and David were now in High School and both were on the Bloomfield basketball team.  Kathy was at every game and cheered until she could cheer no more.  At least once she persuaded a couple of other moms (June and Cheryl) to make their own pom-poms and be unofficial cheerleaders for the team.  During one finals game when Bloomfield won, all were standing and applauding – Kathy had disappeared – she was at center court hugging and jumping and cheering with the team!  That year the entire Senior Class voted to have her be the speaker at the Class’s graduation.  She masterminded a “team quilt” project and every graduating student’s family decorated a square for the quilt which was presented at graduation.  Special indeed!

A good title for Kathy would have been the “Instigator of Fun”.   One special incident involved most of her siblings as well as friends Dick and June Shone.  The words “Owl Bar” immediately bring back the memory. The bar (in Baltimore, MD), served “yards of ale” in 2’ tall glasses with a “blunderbuss” top. There were probably 12 in our party and no doubt some over-imbibing was taking place.  Kathy’s brother Ray danced with a rotund woman and at the end of the dance he leaned her back – and dropped her.  Kathy was wearing a skirt with panty hose.  There was a basket of rolls on the table.  Kathy started “wiggling around” in her seat and then proceeded to stand on the table and yell out to the patrons at the bar across the room something like “all right, who can catch this?”  She pulled up her skirt and reached down inside her panty hose as if drawing a six-shooter, and pulled out a roll.  She started swinging her arm around like a pitcher getting ready for the windup.  Suddenly many of the bar patrons became catchers as they all held up their ale glasses to try and catch the soon-to-be-thrown roll.  The manager came to the group and asked that we not stand on the tables.  A few minutes later Kathy repeated the entire sequence to the roars and cheers of the entire crowd.  The next morning Dick went in to “settle up” for any damages and was told that everyone hadn’t had that much fun in a long time!

In 1998 Kathy and Travis built a new home in Victor, moving from Bristol where both Brian and David had completed Bloomfield Schools and where Brett and Brian had spent many summers.  Within days of moving into the Malone Road house, Kathy held a baby shower for soon-to-be #1 grandchild Jake.  Kathy gushed love not only on the grandchildren as they kept arriving, but on decorating the house.  A comment about the house was made recently by the cleaning lady who said that “this house just says love everywhere!”

Within a few years, Kathy took over a business created by her sister Mary Rogers called “Words2Paint” which involved using a graphic plotter to cut quotations out of adhesive-backed vinyl.  She created a quote and put it on the wall in our bedroom above our bed.  It reads: “This much I’ll remember, when the rest of life is through, the finest thing I’ve ever done is simply loving you.”  By now she was “Mema” to eight grandchildren who were the absolute joys of her life.  Her stenciling “piece de resistance” is the guest bathroom which has a Clown theme and such quotes as: “Put something silly in the world that hasn’t been there before”, “Make a funny face” and “Sing a mumble-gumble song”.  But the star attraction in the bathroom was the guest book that the kids loved and visitors still contribute to – Date, Time, Purpose of Visit and Comments.

As the grandkids grew older, Kathy volunteered at Benincasa in Mendon, a hospice house.  As you might guess, she loved the residents and … of course….  they loved her – to the end.  One woman had told her how her son had died at an early age.  Kathy was sitting with her one night and the woman sat up in bed and spoke to her son who was asking her to come with him – and she died.  On another occasion, one resident had taken such a liking to Kathy that when his family showed up to see him, he wanted nothing to do with them.  Kathy stopped volunteering as she felt terrible coming between the resident and his family.  That’s who she was.

By 2012, Alzheimer’s began to take its toll and it was apparent that Kathy was not going to be able to direct any more of the Schnacky shows – so what did the group do?  They held a KathyPalooza for her in 2013.  Travis “secretly” escorted her into the Church, having told her they were going to sneak in on a surprise party for someone else.  As they got inside, the lights came on and there were Schnackys EVERYWHERE.  They sang several songs they had rehearsed, and even put on a short play they had written.  Afterward we all went up to the Schnacky Center for a lavish party put on by “Team Schnacky”

Even when Kathy started to fade in recent years, she would frequently say that she was “going home to her mother”.  When Kathy passed on January 27th, 2023, we all knew that she was going to be reunited with loved ones, including not only her mother and Travis’ mother, but her sister Pat, nephew Keith and especially Monsignor Schnacky who she often described as the most Christ-like human being she ever knew.  She and Travis had been in Hawaii for 4 days of nothing but overcast and rain.  Kathy said “this is enough” and went to a small bridge and prayed to Monsignor.  Within a short time the sun came out and was beautiful for the rest of their stay.  Always good to know people in “high places”.

Several years ago, Schnacky member Sam Olney’s mother passed away.  The burial was at Boughton Cemetery.  Travis leaned over to Kathy during the ceremony and whispered “you can almost see our house from here!”  They talked about it and within a few weeks had a plot and a headstone complete with “dash-es” and including the masks of Comedy and Tragedy prominently displayed.

Years ago Kathy bought a “pig-out” cookie jar when the grandkids were visiting frequently.  At some point she decided she wanted to be buried in it!  To see where her story goes from here, you can hopefully attend her “Celebration of Life”

Beautiful Additions Received:

[I’ll always remember] how deeply caring and loving she was to all that met her.
From her infectious laugh, a loving hug, to her radiant smile, and that twinkle in her eye that spoke of a brilliant idea or adventure to be had- people always gravitated toward her because where Kathy went, fun was sure to follow. She made everyone feel welcome and loved in her circle of friends and family.
Kathy’s infectious smile and love will always live in my heart. She welcomed me into your life from the moment we met.
To know her was to love her. Kathy was the brightest light, the truest blessing, the richest treasure. I, personally, have never known anyone quite like her.
Looking back at my childhood, some of my happiest moments were with my “extended play family.” Mrs Piper always, always, always had a huge smile on her face every time she saw me… especially when I’d come home from college to see the plays, she was always excited to see my boyfriend (now husband) and hear what we had been up too. Her excitement even grew more when she got to meet our kids. She always made me and everyone else, feel special, accepted and loved.

Kathy’s “Celebration of Life”:
Imagine if you will, the Schnacky Center (where it all began) filled with all of you and all the wonderful memories that have taken place there. Everybody has a Kathy story and we’d all love to hear them. Kathy wanted a “Party” (originally she wanted to be stuffed and have blonde hair, big boobs, and be “animated” with a drink in her hand, sitting on the piano). Practically speaking, the cookie jar was equally “Kathy” with a lot less logistics.

There will be remembrances and memorabilia and reunions galore – all topped by food, and laughs and FUNNN as Kathy wanted it.

How fun would it be if you could wear a costume or bring a prop from a show — or a Schnacky T-Shirt
Even if you didn’t know Kathy (new to the group in recent years), please plan to attend and get to know her. Hopefully she will rub off on you, even a little, and you can help make this a better world. You’ll be glad you did.

The Date: Sunday June 4, 2023
The Time: Calling Hours: 1:00-2:00. Presentations/Celebration: 2:00
The Place: Monsignor Schnacky Community Center, St. Catherine’s Church
26 Mendon-Ionia Road (Route 64) Mendon, NY 14506

MOST IMPORTANT: If you are coming, please let Travis know how many (RSVP by April 30th) so we can plan sufficient room, sustenance and libation for all. And if you’re coming in from out-of-town, chances are good we can arrange housing for you with some local Schnacky’s who have a spare room or two.
Warning: Hall Capacity is just over 200. If needed, we have arranged for “overflow” into other spaces in the facility which can be set up to project the streamed presentation on the big screen. We won’t know how many might be attending until the RSVPs are in. Every effort will be made to get “early RSVPers” seated in the Community Center.

Or leave a message at 585-924-9235

AND, if you are unable to attend, you can stream (everything but the food) at this link Kathy Piper Celebration
starting at 2:00 on June 4, 2023

AND, if you cannot attend or stream “live”, the streamed event will remain online for viewing using the same link for several months.

Donations may be made in Kathy’s memory to St. Catherine’s Church with the notation “For Schnacky Players”. Address: 26 Mendon-Ionia Road, Mendon, NY 14506.
How fortunate we all have been to have known Kathy. As one of her best friends said: Kathy changed the life of everyone she met!

I certainly know she changed mine and I am so very grateful and glad I am able to do what I can to Celebrate her. – Travis
She now has a new audience to love all that she is and does.


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