Kaethe Johanna Radomski

Kaethe Johanna Radomski

Kaethe Johanna Radomski

The amazing Kaethe Johanna Radomski, wife, mother, and friend died January 7th, 2019 but her style, class, humor, intelligence, and trademark stubbornness will not be forgotten.

Undeviatingly spirited, plucky and tenacious, she showed all of us, over many years, her optimism, her extraordinary sweetness, and her singular gift of sincerity that could leave you overwhelmed with the kindest and brightest of smiles. Kaethe did not allow anything — shoulder replacements, knee replacements, power tool injuries — keep her from doing what she loved: woodworking, hiking, spending time with her grandkids, having whiskey and chocolate for dessert, and repeatedly and solidly defeating Rick in their many, many games of Five Crowns. She was an outspoken woman of great personal strength that impressed (and sometimes frightened) everyone she encountered.

Kaethe was born in 1940 in Waldenburg, a small Silesian town, then in eastern Germany, now Polish. In 1945, she and her mother, Ruth, were relocated as the Russian Army approached Waldenburg near the end of the war. They were placed on an army train that traveled at night and hid in tunnels during the day to avoid Allied bombers. They snuck out to steal potatoes from nearby fields when the train stopped. After many days they arrived in Aalen Germany, a city in Baden-Württemberg about 40 miles east of Stuttgart, where they were first placed with local families. They were joined by Kaethe’s cousin, Martin, who was relocated from another area. Martin essentially became Kaethe’s brother as Ruth raised the two together through the German high school system until Martin left for army service and Kaethe went to a language school in Munich. Kaethe’s first memory of encounter with an American was seeing a soldier driving a tank through their town. And she told stories of herself as a child, befriending one of the soldiers and getting to ride on a tank much to the bewilderment of her family. 

She survived, endured and conquered her young life in Germany as a resilient and creative soul. She had many stories to tell, first of the hard times soon after the war ended, then of bicycle trips with friends in the country where they slept outside near the road, school dances, and train trips to visit relatives, many which she shared with us during her trip to Germany this past summer. These early experiences set the tone for her life ~ for her fierce will to live, strength to endure, gratitude for all things she had and unconditional love for family and friends.

Kaethe immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1961 and married Ronald Kirkby in 1962. The Kirkby family took her in, adored her, and to this day have been loving and supportive. Kaethe and Ron had a daughter (Tanya) in 1970 and due to life’s peculiar and interesting paths, were divorced a year later. Kaethe and Ron remained friends; in fact, Kaethe would later introduce Jan Burton to Ron and the two were married and started a beautiful family of their own. Even through divorce, Kaethe was unconditionally accepting and loving of all her friends and family. Kaethe and Tanya moved to La Jolla, California, where Kaethe met the love of her life, John Frederick Ash (Rick) in 1975 and they quickly became a family. They married in 1978 and together they lived a life full of unparalleled adventures; traveling, camping, hiking (that included crossing Swasey’s Leap by crawling over old, rickety planks 60 feet above Muddy Creek…in the dark…with flashlights…only to have to climb on hands and knees up another precarious rock embankment…) and eventually building the house of their combined dreams in Torrey, Utah. They filled their house openly, comfortingly, and graciously to all and always wined and dined friends till the wee hours. She would make you laugh till you cried, share stories and other things to make one blush, and cook the most amazing “puffies” (Yorkshire pudding) that would be devoured by the dozen. 

Kaethe was a truly creative soul, teacher, inventor and an authentic, unconditional wife, mother and friend. One always felt warmed and welcomed in her presence and always accepted, no questions asked, no judgement made, only her limitless openness to all people and experiences that would come through her door. 

She also loved taking her family and friends on “death marches” through the desert, playing games, puzzles and if you were one of the lucky ones, she would gift you one of her amazingly, creative and beautiful pieces of wood work. 

Kaethe was world-renowned for her lack of a verbal filter, not holding back her opinion, and a knack for telling it like it is. She liked four-letter words just about as much as her German chocolate treats. She was a connoisseur of fine wines and whiskeys, and a firm believer that turkey could only be served with homemade cranberry sauce. She always told you the truth, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. She was generous to a fault, a total softie on the inside, and yet she sugar-coated absolutely nothing.

Kaethe had strong beliefs in which she never wavered: doves are from hell; her Almond Rum cake was to only be made without almonds and without rum; chocolate and ice cream must be served with whiskey and if you didn’t like something then you shouldn’t have it or do it, period.

She deeply loved her family and together with Rick raised their daughter, Tanya, who shares their love of the outdoors, creativity and all things sparkly. When Tanya was pregnant with her first son, Kaethe said with all gruff seriousness, “If you think that I’ll be that kind of grandmother, all gooey, you’re in for a mistake.” Yet, as soon as Max was born, there was nothing you could do to keep her arms from being around him, cherishing him, applauding him and sneaking him chocolates and later the occasional sip of whiskey. Then Sam came along, and you can just imagine how “strict and serious” she was … Max and Sam affectionately called her Cadu, which then became her “new” name.

Cadu was known for her timeless words of wisdom, including “Does that hurt? Well then don’t do it,” “Well, that was dumb,” “No,” “You know that I’m always right,” and “Andy, get me a glass of wine.” Usually when we were hiking, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing and everyone else was exhausted she would say, “Let’s just go a bit further and look around the next corner.”

Kaethe’s life was exceptionally full. Beginning in high school, she became a talented painter and also starred in a remarkable film directed by the school’s art teacher. She taught German at the University of California, San Diego for several years and then worked for a software company developing programs for natural language translation. She worked as a language translator for the Russian-American Apollo-Soyuz space mission in 1975, an important event during the Cold War. Ultimately however, she went back to her artistic and creative roots and made a long and successful career in woodworking. She had an exceptional gift that will endlessly live on due to the countless and priceless woodworking items that she created. Everyone who sees her work calls her an artist, she would have none of that, “I’m a woodworker” she would insist. Her brilliant and genius design inspiration would leave one speechless. She was able to take a bland piece of wood and create, out of her mind, breathtakingly beautiful objects that have been displayed in countless galleries, traveled the world, and won numerous awards. 

She is survived by her devoted and loving husband Rick, daughter Tanya, and Tanya’s husband Andy and two perfect grandchildren, Max and Sam. Kaethe and Rick have been blessed by a wide group of devoted friends, colleagues, and coworkers. The family is deeply grateful for their unwavering friendship.

A Celebration of Life Memorial service for Kaethe will be held at Red Butte Gardens, Orangerie of Salt Lake City, February 2nd beginning at 5 pm for a glass of wine or beer to toast in Cadu’s honor, the greatest wife, mom and grandma in the world.

In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family requests that any contributions be made to your own families in the form of a long and cherished hug, a kiss, a held hand and always telling those that you love ~ “I love you.”

  • Mellanee Hawk
    Posted at 16:07h, 14 January Reply

    Please accept my very deepest condolences regarding the loss of Kaethe. It is humbly apparent that she was loved, very much. During sad times like this, we can draw comfort from 1 Cor. 15:26, which plainly tells us how God feels . . . about death: “The last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.” This helps us to see that death is not a part of life, because God refers to it as our ‘enemy.’ As a result, at Acts 24:15, God promises there will be a resurrection, of our loved ones who’ve fallen asleep in death—back to life—on a paradise earth. I sincerely hope these scriptures help to comfort your family as they have mine, and if you’d like to read the Bible online, or learn more about God’s promises for our loved ones who’ve fallen asleep in death, please feel free to visit JW. org.   Again, my very deepest condolences to those who love and cherish Cadu.

  • Clare Friedman
    Posted at 20:53h, 17 January Reply

    What a. beautiful tribute. We are sorry for your loss and wish you peace and comfort. now and always: With love, Scott, Clare, Olivia, Ben, and Jack Friedman

  • Ursula Pimentel
    Posted at 19:03h, 20 January Reply

    You forgot to mention one of Kaethe’s enemies: Cilantro!! Cilantro also was from hell, just like those doves!

    My fondest memories of Kaethe are going on hikes in the Torrey area. Thanks to her and Rick, Richard and I not only enjoyed their beautiful Torrey house, but also exploring the many “favorite” trails. But what I remember the most is Kaethe the rock hunter extraordinaire. No one loved collecting rocks as much as Kaethe. She had an eye for that unique form or color of a rock, big or small, that could be found along the desert trails. The house was filled with her finds, and rocks were distributed among the greenery outside.

    Gratitude to Kaethe and you, Rick, for your generous spirit and enduring friendship. My heartfelt condolences to you, Rick, Tanya, Andy, Max and Sam.

    With deepest sadness,

  • Monika Witucki
    Posted at 14:51h, 21 January Reply

    Kaethe, Rick, and Tanya moved to DeSoto Street about 40 years ago. We became acquainted quickly as Tanya and our daughter, Terri, were friends and school mates. We spent many a wonderful evening at their home for dinner, wine, and great conversation. Kaethe was always animated, lively, and we loved her liberal ideals. Kaethe would love to rub it in that being that I was born in Bavaria, my relatives and I did not speak German. She did not consider Bavarian to be German, but some crazy odd language! This really made me laugh because she was probably right.

    My mom visited from Germany and I really wanted her to meet Kaethe, but thought this could go one of two ways. Either very good or not as Kaethe and my mother had very similar personalities. Well, my mom loved Kaethe and they got along so well We were all invited to stay at their home in Torrey and it was so much fun. My mother and Kaethe danced together, laughing and joking.

    Jim and I have so many fond memories of Kaethe over these past many years. She would haunt me if I were ever to say that she was “sweet”, but no one we have ever met was more kind, compassionate, authentic, talented, or intelligent as she was. We will miss here beyond belief as will everyone that knew her.

    Our sincerest condolences go out to Rick, Tanya, and their entire family.

    With Sympathy and Love, Monika and Jim Witucki

  • Ruth Manville
    Posted at 10:52h, 30 January Reply

    We are profoundly experiencing the loss of Kaethe, and holding Rick, Tanya, Andy and her grandchildren in loving concern. Kaethe is irreplaceable in our memories and unique in our friendships. Her multifaceted psyche presents in dynamic contrasts. One could experience her indomitable personality as discerning and outrageous, fiercely loving, intimidating and inspiring, sacrilegious and reverent, steely and warm, disarming and affirming, raw and sophisticated, earthy and sublime. Kaethe was a force of nature that we will all miss on this earthly plane. We will hold dear our memories of morning yoga, long hikes (forced marches), wonderful food, whiskey, dancing, and listening to Bill Withers songs. We think especially of his songs “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and “Lean on Me”. I hope you will lean on those who know and love you at this difficult time.

    Ruth and Gary Manville

  • Joanna Tarantola
    Posted at 14:46h, 30 January Reply

    Kaethe was such a strong-willed sassy woman -so much so that she gave herself a new birthday date! I always felt pretty proud that she picked the same day as mine, September 3, even though it had nothing to do with me. To be in her light was to feel so special and seen. Geoff and I are proud owners of some of her art, both gifted and commissioned. They are treasures of the highest value. Thank you Tanya for sharing a little bit of your mom with us. We love you all so much and we will think of her always.

    With love,
    Joanna and Geoff Tarantola

  • Patricia and Frank Collins
    Posted at 17:43h, 01 February Reply

    It is so hard to know where to start. There are so many memories and emotions. We had no idea that our visit with Rick and Kaethe in October would be our last with her. But we have many years of rich distinctive memories.

    Frank and Rick met at UCSD. Frank came to SLC and shortly thereafter Rick, Kaethe and Tanya moved there also. We were very fortunate to be able to work with Rick at the U. Ironically, Rick and Kaethe bought Franks house on DeSoto Street. Kaethe transformed it into a magical place. Each visit was a new creation of Kaethe’s. They attended our wedding in 1980. We spent many evenings enjoying great food, good wine and amazing company.

    We moved out of state and recently reconnected with them. It was as if we had not missed a beat. We have great camping memories and yes, those “forced marches”. Frank loved playing 5 Crowns late into the night with Rick and Kaethe. She was an undefeated champion.

    Their home in Torrey is an amazing tribute to Kaethe. She occupies every inch of the property. It is such a vision.She created a special place for her family and friends. Her spirit will dwell in all she created. She loved what she did and you could feel it.

    Our love and thoughts are with you Rick ,Tanya, Andy, Max and Sam. Take comfort that she loved you all very much and left as much of herself as she could.

    Frank and Trisha

  • Yinka Akinmade
    Posted at 09:44h, 02 February Reply

    In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna says “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul” – I will forever remember my beloved friend, Kaethe with that celestial belief. A spirited, vibrant life – manifested in love, beauty, adventure and memorable artworks.

  • Richard Pimentel
    Posted at 13:41h, 02 February Reply

    I would like to endorse everything that Ursula has said (see above) and add a little of my own. I think Kaethe contributed greatly to the burning out of my taste buds with her Scorpion paste. I also fondly remember our private yoga sessions with Dennis and Kathy. If there is an afterlife, I sincerely hope that Kaethe and Dennis meet up again, with her health and Dennis’s memory restored.

    Kaethe did not suffer fools well. And I really loved her pithy and spot on comments!! I hope we share some today. I wish I had written them down!


    Thank you for the many hikes in Capital Reef.
    And for the many wonderful dinners.
    And all the pears.
    And lastly, cleaning our cabin. Someone had to do it!!

  • Jay Lees & Julie Lowell
    Posted at 15:19h, 03 February Reply

    A Sonnet in Memory of Kaethe

    The memorable moment of meeting
    ​Kaethe, who shown with imperious grace,
    All petty behavior defeating
    ​Not suffering but putting fools in their place.

    She could command with a glance and a nod
    ​But not the nod or the glance of a judge
    Whose verdict was pain and the rod,
    ​nothing would Kaethe begrudge

    And if she seemed stern in her bearing,
    ​She turned wood into poems so warm
    That they sang out an art full of caring
    ​Each piece into music transformed.

    But stern? commanding? imperious? portrays
    ​Kaethe’s picture too bleak
    For you’d melt, friend, you’d melt in a moment
    ​At the sight of her smile unique.

    With much love,
    Jay and Julie

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