Kathleen Janelle Ledwick née Martin, born on February 2nd, 1949 in San Mateo, California left us in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on January 29th, 2019 after a sustained and brave battle against cancer. Also called Kathi and Kath, Kathleen passed peacefully, surrounded by her loving spouse of 52 years, Allyn Ledwick, son Kristofer (Kris), and a caring friend from high school. Kathleen lived in San Mateo, where she stayed until age 6, until moving with her parents to Key Biscayne, Florida for a few months, and then returning to California where her family resided in Los Altos for most of her childhood. Kathleen attended Los Altos High School, along with her brother.
She loved animals during her school days, spending some of her time helping care for a horse belonging to a nearby neighbor in exchange for an occasional ride around the corral. She earned money by babysitting, and she learned to water ski at Lakes Berryessa and Shasta and shoot guns at her father Ralph’s family property, within eyesight of Sutter’s Mill in the Mother Lode, where her grandfather began his early earning years. Kathleen used to spend many days at San Mateo County beaches where she gleefully got sunburned while wading in the ocean and building sand castles on the beach while drinking Mom’s homemade root beer. With her mother Nellie as Troop Leader, Kathleen was a member of the Girl Scouts.
In 1966, Kathleen married Allyn (Al) Ledwick of Palo Alto. After a few years, the couple and their daughters Athena and Kellie moved to Forestville in Sonoma County. There, they acquired two goats for milk. Kathleen and Al became involved in foster care, where they provided a foster home for two brothers (Brian and Robert) whom, years later, they would adopt. After becoming jaded to the excitement of occasional floods at that residence and needing a larger abode, the family moved to Santa Rosa with the goats in tow. While living here, they took in another foster child (Jay). He was an infant from the hospital with a heart condition. In order to be able to meet all Jay’s medical needs, they applied for, and successfully acquired, guardianship. When the house no longer met their needs, they moved to a larger house with an expansive back yard. This endeavor resulted in plentiful goat milk for cereal for quite a while. They lived in this house for 23 years. During their residency here, they continued foster parenting. In addition to Jay, Kathleen and Al adopted two more of the several foster children placed from their home. These were Beth and Kris.
Some of the highlights of this era of the family were Kellie’s discovery of a new organization called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). After a short time of Kellie’s being at CCI, Kathleen started volunteering there as well. Working alongside CCI’s first client, Kerry Knaus, this team was instrumental in evolving the organization into the world-renowned service organization it is today.
Kathleen and Al also partner with a film company to produce a documentary on adoption of children with disabilities. They also worked with writer Bruce B. Henderson on a story about Kris and his service dog for the Reader’s Digest. This inspired a children’s book to be written using Kris as an inspiration called A Service Dog Goes to School.
Eventually, Kathleen and Al moved again, as empty-nesters, to a just-built home about a mile away. During the 12 years they there, they found themselves taking in their grandson, Rubee, for whom they now have guardianship. They moved to their current home in 2013.
Kathleen’s work for those who have lived with challenges was not limited to her own family. As a member of the Foster Parent Association, she became aware of someone working to help foster parents meet the needs of their charges (Skip Gheritt). The two of them became friends and worked side by side for many years to provide for those families. During this time, the pair collected and distributed clothing and also distributed government food people in need. This experience benefited Kathleen in later years when she became a caregiver for the elderly. There, she also distributed food through the same program.
Friends and family are invited to attend a Memorial Service at Community Church of Sebastopol, 1000 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA Kathleen is being inurned in Santa Rosa Memorial Cemetery following the services. She is survived by her husband Al; her biological daughters Athena in Maryland and Kellie in Nevada; her brother Roger in the state of Washington; adopted sons Kristofer, Jay, Bobbie, and Brian; adopted daughter Beth; grandchildren Cameron, Ian, John, Kyle, and Rubee; and niece Erin.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Canine Companions for Independence at
Canine Companions for Independence
P.O. Box 446
Santa Rosa, CA 95402-0446