Catherine “Kay” Williams: 1916-2018
Catherine Piskac Williams was born June 8, 1916 to John and Katherine (Redmond) Piskac at home in Chicago, Illinois, about one mile east of Union Stockyards where she first became acquainted with the smell of livestock, little knowing that her life would become closely entwined with ranch life.
Catherine was the youngest of four children. Her parents were both deaf mutes and she became the hearing and speaking interpreter, especially for her father. In her childhood she would go to the movies with her older brother enjoying the romanticized westerns of that era.
She married John Roggenkamp, they had two children, Jack and Karen, shortly after which the marriage ended. She worked at various jobs, living at her older sister’s and babysitting her two nephews during the day and going to a night job with Time Life magazine in the subscription department.
While working at Time Life she met Eva (Williams) Lockwood who convinced her to come to South Dakota with her children for a vacation in 1942. Catherine’s life dramatically changed with the decision to accompany Eva to her family ranch near Bison, South Dakota. Eva introduced this city gal to her older brother, George Williams. After a whirlwind romance of two weeks, George and Catherine (Kay) were married July 11, 1942 in Baker, Montana.
George, Kay and the two children made their home on the homestead of George’s mother. There they lived without the city amenities of electricity and running water for ten years when the REA brought power to rural areas. Yes, Kay’s life had taken a different path. In Kay’s words it was a vacation that never ended. Three more children joined the family along the way: Warren, Corinne and Holly. There were a few bumps along the road but never a regret or thought of returning to city life. George and Kay celebrated their 50th anniversary with a big party, and then went on to enjoy life together for another seven years until George’s death in 1999.
She continued to live on the family ranch after George’s death. A windstorm did irreparable damage to their original house in 2002 causing Kay to purchase a “Governor’s house” for the ranch, which she truly enjoyed. She continued to live out her days on the ranch with the assistance of her daughter, Holly and her son-in-law, Lynn. After a brief illness and a short stay at Five Counties Nursing Home, she passed peacefully surrounded by family.
Kay was an active member of the community, a member of Grand River Extension Club in the earlier days, served as a 4-H leader with the Grand River Robins, was clerk of the school board in Bison until they went to a Business Manager and served as Secretary of the Bison Cemetery. In the 1970s she served as head cook for Bison School.
Kay was an active member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church since 1942 and maintains that her faith is what saw her through the rough times of being away from her birth family, the loss of her parents, siblings, husband and son. She was a faithful member of the choir and strong supporter of the parish.
Fortunate to have shared her life, are: one son, Warren (Joyce) Pueblo West, CO; three daughters: Karen (Llewellyn) Englehart, Corinne (John) Erickson, and Holly (Lynn) Waddell, all of rural Bison; one daughter-in-law Janice Roggenkamp, OR; one sister-in-law, Grace (Williams) Leedy, FL; eight grandchildren, numerous great and great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren plus many special nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, one sister Mary, two brothers, John and Clarence, her husband, George and son, Jack.