Goodbye Kathy Part 1 – Well Done Kath!

For December 2021, we are featuring three separate goodbye’s for our wonderful layout and design person, Kathy Summers. Kathy has been with us a long time and is retiring at the end of 2021. She will be missed by many as evidenced in this four part series of goodbye.
Part 1 is from Kim Flottum. He was the longtime editor for 
Bee Culture. He has served many roles in Kathy’s life. He’s been her boss and co-worker. He currently holds the role of loving husband. But most importantly he has been her friend. 

From Kim Flottum –

Kathy Summers started life in a small town on the Texas panhandle. When she was in junior high school she moved with her family to California because her father got a good job in 1966, and she graduated from Mt. Diablo High School in 1972. After graduation she worked for a bit for the city while still living at home.

After a couple of years she married, moved to Medina, her husband’s home town and she worked for the phone company for a bit then a short stay in Houston, Texas, then moved back to Medina, Ohio for a job he had taken. She did a stint at the A.I. Root Company in Medina, working with their Church Sales unit and also worked in a bakery for a while, but children made her pause in the work-a-day  world to be a mom. She stayed that way with her two sons for a couple of years.

In 1988, a friend who was working in the Root Company’s main office, and whose son Kathy was babysitting during the day, told her of a job opportunity in the Root Company’s Publications office. Typing. Typing book copy.

It seemed the Editor was interested in pulling together a series of articles that Richard Taylor had published in their magazine over the years and gather them together into a collection to be called The Best Of Bee Talk, Richard’s monthly column in their magazine Gleanings In Bee Culture.

The hours were good for both family and work, and the work was pretty straight forward, and, being an excellent typist she signed on. She shared an office with the lady who was doing layout and design for the magazine at the time so Kathy quickly became acquainted with both her and the Editor of the magazine – that would be me.

After a bit she began to pick up some of the tricks of layout and design by both watching and listening, but didn’t actually do much in that line. Then, her office mate took what was to be a short leave to start her own family, and because Kathy at least knew how to turn the computer on she got a raise, changed chairs and began a career.

She was supposed to return to typing books, but the lady she replaced decided that returning to work wasn’t in the cards, so a temporary position became permanent. At least until the end of December this year, when she will retire.

Her early years as designer were a bit hectic because it was strictly on the job training, and there was always, always that deadline. But she squeezed in a few classes on this or that on occasion, and because she enjoyed the challenge and had to do it every day, she became quite skilled at this new life task.

One of the other tasks she came to really enjoy was helping at the vendor booth when Gleanings In Bee Culture went to beekeeper’s meetings. And Gleanings In Bee Culture went to a lot of meetings. Meeting new beekeepers and chatting with those she met last year, or 10 or 25 years ago is still the best part of her job she will tell you.

I had been on the EAS Board Of Directors for Connecticut for a couple of years when I moved to Ohio, but then Chairman Dewey Caron kept me on as an appointed director in charge of membership. So EAS quickly became a regular tour for the magazine people. Summer conferences lasted nearly a week, what with before and after meetings, and Director’s meetings were always a weekend. In 1995, Jim Tew, the Ohio State Extension Specialist and regular contributing author, and Bee Culture put together an EAS Conference in Wooster, and Kathy played a huge role in planning for that meeting.

And in 1994, because of her continued involvement with the EAS Board and her role with The Ohio State Beekeepers, she was elected President of EAS by the Board of Directors of The Ohio State Beekeepers, which meant she was in charge of next year’s EAS Conference, which, coincidently, was the 50th Anniversary of the EAS organization. So, it had to be special.

About 1998, the EAS Newsletter Editor left the position, and Kathy took on that role which she kept for about 15 years. She also was Editor of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association newsletter for several years during this time.

I had become Chairman of the Board for EAS by then, a role first held by John Root quite a few years before this, so we were able to invite all of the Chairmen over the years, and many of the Presidents, for a gathering like no other for the group. The Conference was held at Kent State University, about a half hour’s drive from our office, and we got to know the route pretty well during that year. Kathy was still Editor, so she and I put together the history of the group from the first thought of forming a group like this, including the first actual Conference and every one since, right up to the anniversary Conference. She got Keith Delaplane to begin the meeting walking up to the stage playing his bagpipes!

Over the years we were able to attend an Apimondia meeting in Canada, followed by another in Ireland, and the last one we went to was in Canada again, all having a huge vendor area that we were a part of. Then we were invited to our first National Honey Show in London, followed by several more over the years, each in a different location in the UK. We’ve made long and lasting friends on those visits, mostly, I’m pretty sure, because of Kathy.

But always there were deadlines. When we first began the magazine usually had only 56 pages, then for a time it moved up to 64 and now it is routinely 100 pages a month. Much of this because of the increase in advertising, driven by the increase in circulation. But we didn’t think she had enough to do, so a few years back we started another magazine, a quarterly called BEEKEEPING: Your First Three Years, aimed exclusively at those folks just starting out. That ran for several years until a distribution issue came up and it was decided to merge that content into what is now just Bee Culture. The Gleanings in was discontinued about 30 years ago.

One task that never went away was dealing with the authors. As we expanded, so did the number of people involved in getting information to us to publish. We love our regular authors, actually we love all of them, but unfortunately they have lives too, and sometimes our deadlines and their events didn’t mesh as well as we would have liked, and the deadline wasn’t about to change. So, some months, right at the very end of time, it was hurry up and go, go, go. Of course, there are those special few who are always early, by a week or two and sometimes a whole month early. They are really easy to like. Nevertheless, either way some of these regular contributors have become very close friends over the years.

For several years we were involved in the Mother Earth News Shows, which took us to some familiar, and some not familiar places over the years. Besides learning more about chickens, Kathy managed to sell books and give away magazines to the hundreds of attendees at these and all of the meetings we went to. She did the work, while I was off trying to be important for somebody.

During the Obama Administration, when there was a bee hive at the White House for the organic garden that had been planted, we visited with the White House beekeeper, Charlie Brandts several times. And wouldn’t you know, Kathy got to work at the table sponsored by the  local beekeeper’s club during one of the events out on the lawn. But we got to meet many of the staff (the pastry chef was from Ohio which made interesting conversations), and had special tours of the grounds.

The past couple of years have ended traveling however, and attending meetings pretty much came to a halt. However, when things open up again, Kathy won’t be selling books or giving away magazines any more. Nope, she will be sitting in the audience, listening to whoever is speaking for a change. That will be different.

I have to say, over all these years, Kathy has become a very good beekeeper. I’d like to think it was her teacher, but she is much better than I am. She has a very gentle touch when working a hive, slow, soft and easy. I tend not to be that way because I’m always in a hurry. Not Kathy. And she knows her bee stuff very well, always ready to answer a beekeeper’s question about who, what, how, when, why or why not and what tool to use, problem to look for or piece of equipment to fix. She definitely became an asset for all of the folks in the Publications Department.

We’ve worked together now for 33 years, and, I’d like to think, have pretty much enjoyed every one of them. Her two sons are now grown, both living in Medina again, so that part of her life is settling in just as she hoped it would all those years ago when all she did was type.

It’s been quite a story so far Kath (my shortened name for her), so get ready for your second chapter. I know you can handle anything that comes along. And, by the way, thanks for being you.