Laura Kathryn “Kitty” Arnold Herzog, 97, passed away March 9, 2020 peacefully in her daughter’s residence at Wilderness Country Club in Naples, Florida.
She was born Sept. 20, 1922, in Groveland, Florida. She was attended for many years by her daughters K. Ann Probst and Emogene (Gena) Bedrosian, loyal aides and caregivers, Avow Hospice team, Private Nurse Manager Anne Lashenka, Dr. Ronald Garry and faithful church friends and visitors.
Kitty and Don had the blessings of a caring family, and the best possible care, prayers of others, physical and emotional support and comfort in their later years, enabling them to live in their home setting as they wished. Kitty was predeceased by her loving husband of 63 years, Donald M. Herzog, daughter Frances Lucille Herzog, siblings Jefferson Ray Arnold, Charles Arnold, Frances Arnold Cole, Lucille Arnold Shultz, and Julian Arnold.
Kitty is survived by two daughters, Gena (Gary) and K. Ann (Andrew), grandsons Gregory Bedrosian (Tracy), Geoffrey Bedrosian (Ashley), Gary E. Bedrosian (Haley), Thomas Probst, Robert Probst, and granddaughter, Kathy Herzog and seven great-grandchildren.
To know Kitty, Don, and their history, was to realize that they were truly members of the “greatest generation.” Kitty was the last surviving of six children of Jefferson Ray and Eva Dowling Arnold. Kitty graduated as valedictorian of Groveland High School while being class president and participating in girls’ basketball. Kitty’s father, J. Ray, owned extensive land and the largest pine sawmill in the Southeast U.S. in the 1920s. During the Great Depression, J. Ray minted his own aluminum “loomies” coins to pay his workers so that they could continue to purchase food and necessities for their families at the local mercantile.
Her father’s business and community interests were pivotal to the development of Groveland as an ideal thriving small Florida town. Her family built a Southern Baptist Church, a school, recruited and housed teachers, and worked to develop an excellent school system. Her mother devoutly studied her Bible and served the community in many ways, including assuring that the school children had lunchtime food by creating a sandwich brigade. Many Arnold relatives and cousins lived nearby. Annually, the extended family would travel to their summer estate in Hendersonville, North Carolina, to escape the Florida summers (prior to air conditioning) and recreate together. Kitty had many fond memories of her summers there.
As adults, Kitty’s brothers and cousins served our country during World War II. Kitty recalled pinning her brother’s pilot wings on when he completed pilot’s training. He went on to fly 23 missions as the lead bombardier in a B-29 called “Slim” and “Slim 2” (half of two surviving portions of planes put together) over Japan.
The Groveland Historical Society has detailed displays about the Arnold family contributions through business and community, and local military contributions.
Kitty began college at Brenau College and completed her teaching degree at Florida College for Women. Her masters was completed at the University of Florida. Prior to marriage, she taught elementary school in Winter Park, Florida.
Friends introduced her to Don on a blind date. Don was a successful mechanical engineer with Carrier Corporation in North Florida, specializing in developing home and commercial air conditioning businesses at a time when air-conditioning was quite new. They married on April 8, 1950, and honeymooned in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. They relocated to Don’s hometown of Smethport, Pennsylvania, for Don to join the family toy manufacturing company, Smethport Specialty Company. Don, his brother Jim, and their father Ralph, worked tirelessly as a team for many years, successfully increasing their family toy business to international prominence.
Among their toys (many magnetic), their most iconic toy, “Wooly Willy,” consisted of a cartoon face where metal filings could be moved about to create features using a red magnetic wand. Woolly Willy is known to most baby boomers from their childhood years. The Toy Industry Association added Wooly Willy to its “Century of Toys List,” a roll call of the most memorable and creative toys of the 20th century.
Kitty and Don raised three daughters. The family enjoyed many outdoor activities including boating, skiing, biking, and hiking. Upon retirement they spent summers with grandchildren at Chautauqua Institution and winters in Naples. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2000 with a private family tour of Israel. Three grandsons were baptized in the Jordan River.
Kitty enjoyed Bible study, Arnold genealogy research, WWII military history (especially relating to her brother’s service records), antiques, decorating, shopping and deep intellectual discussions of topics of her interests. Kitty was a strong supporter of the McKean County
Historical Society in Pennsylvania and Groveland Historical Society in Florida. Kitty and Don faithfully attended the Methodist Church in Smethport and First Baptist Church in Naples, where she shared her love of Jesus with many sisters in Christ. Kitty self-published books on the Arnolds of Groveland and Conversations I Wished I Had. She wanted to share her family heritage and Christian faith both with those close by and future generations. It was her fondest wish for her great-grandchildren and grandchildren and those around her to come to know Christ as Savior.
A memorial service may be planned locally for a later date when extended family may also convene. A Christian memorial service with joint interment of both Kitty and Don’s ashes will be held at Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando, at a future date. Family and friends are welcome to attend both memorials when announced.
Donations may be sent in Kitty’s memory to the Groveland Historical Society, 243 South Lake Avenue, Groveland, FL, 34736.