December 19, 1926 - October 28, 2022
IN LOVING MEMORY
Bertha Kathryn (Kathy) Lambert
Kathy Lambert accomplished what almost everyone wants in life; she lived a long full life, was loved by many, hated by none, and she died in her sleep.
Kathy was born Bertha Kathryn Krug on the East side of Detroit, Michigan, and grew up during the worst of the Great Depression. Her father, Herbert Krug, was a watchmaker and general handyman, and her mother, Bernice Kerstein Krug, was a homemaker. They had nine children, and remained well below the poverty line. All the children worked at odd jobs growing up; Kathy worked from her early teens as a neighborhood babysitter and an usher at the Cinderella Theater, then a popular movie house on Jefferson Avenue, a block from her home. She graduated from Southeastern High School in 1944.
The Second World War ended the Depression, and by her late teens Kathy and her friends could afford to go to dance halls on weekends. The dance halls featured big bands, and the audiences would be dressed almost formally. The women wore hats and gloves with their best dresses, and the men wore suits, neckties and fedoras. The cover charge could be as low as twenty-five cents.
Windsor, Ontario, right across the Detroit River, also featured had dance halls, and it was considered fun and even exotic to go dancing in another country, so Kathy and her friends sometimes went there as well. Watching the band in an outdoor pavilion, she took an immediate interest in the trumpet player. The trumpet was the lead guitar of the 1940’s music scene, so he was easy to spot. His name was Claude Lambert.
Claude Lambert, a native of an Ontario village called Forest, was a 23-year old professional musician who had been touring with bands since he was 16. At the time, he was doing military service in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His assignment was to play trumpet in the RCAF dance band, called the Streamliners. He was just about to embark to the war zone. It was a classic love-at-first-sight story, and they were married just after the war. They would remain together until Claude’s death, 43 years later.
They spent their entire married life in and around Detroit. The end of the war also spelt the end of the big band era, and Claude, along with literally thousands of other musicians, was forced to find a day job. Starting pretty close to the bottom, he worked on the assembly line at Ford, playing music in small groups on weekends. The 1950s and ‘60s were prosperous times for Detroit, and Claude tried his hand at sales, succeeding beyond anyone’s expectations, eventually buying a house and raising four children. Kathy, in the manner of the times, was a stay-at-home mom, well before the term was coined. Claude passed away in 1988.
Some of the couples' favorite holidays were spent at Streamliners reunions, held biannually in the various cities that the members had settled in. These included a standing invitation for the growing group of widows, and Kathy attended one a few years later. There her affection for Canadian brass players kicked in again and she noticed one of the trombonists, an Ottawa native named Charles Overall. They were married one year later, settling first in Ottawa and then moving to Florida. They separated seven years later, and Kathy moved to Washington, D.C., where her only daughter was living. She started a small cottage business creating silk flowers.
Up until 2014 Kathy lived alone in a nice apartment near her daughter. Her health began to decline and she finally moved to a nursing home in Fairfax, Virginia. There, buoyed by frequent visits by her children and grandchildren, she passed her last years. This coming December, she would have turned 96.
She is survived by her sons, Kevin Lambert of Washington, D.C., Timothy Lambert of Vancouver, Canada and Birch Bay, Washington, Dennis Lambert of Tampa, FL, and her daughter, Janet Hunter of Fairfax, Virginia.
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