By Mary McCarty, Staff Writer | Middletown Journal
The 38-year-old Centerville mother and wife maintained a dizzying schedule with her full-time job coupled with countless hours of charity work — not to mention her duties as “the best mom ever,” according to daughters, Maddie, 9, and Marin, 4.
“She always put everyone else first,” recalled her husband, John Snow.
That tendency didn’t end with her tragic death May 26, less than a week after suffering a massive stroke. Kim had registered as an organ donor and, as a result, several lives have been saved and more than 50 others are living healthier lives.
The life of a 58-year-old aircraft mechanic was saved by a liver transplant.
As a result of her new pancreas, a 59-year-old nurse and grandmother has been relieved from her suffering from Type 1 diabetes.
Eyesight was restored to two people.
The percentage of Ohio drivers registering as organ donors has climbed steadily in the past 10 years, from less than 48 percent in 2002 to nearly 58 percent in 2011. Organ donations in Ohio are down by 50 percent from last year, nonetheless, with only 13 donors through June 1 compared with 26 during the same time period last year.
That figure would be reduced dramatically if more people conveyed their wishes about organ donation, according to Cathi Arends, spokeswoman for Life Connection of Ohio. Only 38.46 percent of families consent to organ donation, Arends said, largely because they don’t know what their loved ones would want.
“Kim made the decision an easy one for her family by registering as an organ donor,” Arends said. “It is so important for people to discuss donation with their families, to obtain accurate information and register in the Ohio Donor Registry.”
Kim’s tissue was donated to more than 50 people. Amy Moeder with Community Tissue Services said that tissue donations can be used for multiple purposes, including skin grafts for severe burn patients, and bone grafts to restore mobility to patients with cancer or crippling disease or spinal surgery. In addition, heart valves can be donated to repair cardiac defects. Over the past 10 years the agency, a division of the Community Blood Bank, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of tissue donors — from 1,439 in 2000 to 3,651 in 2010.
John Snow said he had no questions about what his wife would have wanted: “It’s just the way she was; she wanted to help people if she could. She was only 38, but I knew what she wanted. She’s still giving, even now.”
The two met while working at National City Bank; Kim turned down his first two offers for a date but accepted on the third, admitting, “I never turn down a free meal.” Snow persisted not only because Kim was beautiful, “but she had lots of positive energy, a great smile, and a loving, kind and positive attitude.”
Seven months later, they became engaged while taking a stroll on a beach in Florida. John hid the ring in a conch shell; at first Kim didn’t understand. “She thought she was the luckiest person in the world, finding a shell with a huge diamond in it,” John recalled. “When she said yes, people were clapping from their balconies.”
They married Sept. 27, 1997. “It was a great marriage; we were a beautiful team,” he said. “She was the best mom; to say that she was doting and caring is the understatement of all time. She just loved her girls and always found time to put them first. Even with her career and her charities.”
That sentiment was echoed by Marsha Froelich, her close friend and former boss at the YWCA of Greater Dayton: “She was always willing to give 150 to 200 percent. You never got the feeling she was doing it grudgingly, yet we always knew her family was her priority.”
On their 10th anniversary, Kim wrote a letter thanking John for their daughters and their lives together. “I know the girl you married with career aspirations and no plans for babies took on a new passage,” she wrote. “It’s the greatest gift I have ever been given and I will always be grateful that you gave me my girls, and the opportunity to be a mom. I am at peace that they have you for a dad. I know I say it all the time, but your being the man that you are will allow them to be the strong women they will become.”
The beautifully-written letter was characteristic of the woman who bought $50 to $60 worth of Hallmark cards a month. “It was just that personal touch that was so Kim,” John said. “It would be easier to send an e-card or a text, but she took the time to send a card.”
Her career continued to flourish, and Kim was honored as one of the Dayton Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” the annual awards honoring movers and shakers.
On Friday, May 20, Kim attended the Kline Elementary School carnival, where her daughter Maddie attended third grade. “Kim was in great spirits and very energetic at the carnival,” he said.
She woke up Saturday morning, screaming in pain. She was rushed to an emergency room, where doctors initially suspected a seizure. “By the time she was diagnosed with a stroke, she suffered permanent, irreversible brain damage,” John said. “As active as she was, that would have been her hell.”
Kim died four days later. A blood clot is the suspected cause of the stroke.
People waited in line for two hours at Kim’s visitation, and more than 1,000 people packed her funeral Mass at the Church of the Incarnation in Centerville. “What a tribute that was to Kim and how many lives she touched,” John said. “The outpouring of support and love is nothing short of miraculous.”
As a student at Tippecanoe High School, Kim had served on student senate and headed up numerous school organizations. Even her parents, Marilyn and Tom McClurg of Tipp City, were amazed after her death by the breadth of Kim’s community involvement. “She was a very strong, competent individual who believed in volunteering,” Marilyn said. “But she wasn’t one to talk about what she was doing. It just blew our minds.”
She left a final, priceless memento for her daughters: A daily journal of their activities and accomplishments. “There could be no better gift to remind them of how special she was,” John said.
Kim Snow lives on in Maddie and Marin, smart, lively, lovable girls — her truest legacy.
And she lives on in dozens of strangers all over the country.
Bill Baker of Portage, Ohio, was spared the imminent prospect of going on dialysis, thanks to Kim’s right kidney. Like three of his four brothers, Baker, 46, has been diagnosed with the highly hereditary polycystic kidney disease.
Baker has something else in common with his donor: He hates being idle. Since his surgery, he is slowly resuming his 100-hour a week schedule working the family farm in addition to his full-time job with the highway patrol.
“I feel badly for the family, but very appreciative they had the heart to donate life,” Baker said.
None of her friends are surprised by this final act of generosity. “That’s so Kim,” said Hope Arthur, her close friend and co-worker at Sinclair Workforce Development. “She still hasn’t stopped giving.”
Still, admitted mutual friend Marsha Froelich wistfully, “Every one of us would rather have our friend back.”
For information about registering to become an organ donor, go to www.DonateLifeOhio.org or contact Life Connection of Ohio at (800) 535-9206.