Lifetime Midwesterner begins again in Park City
November 11, 2016
Kathie Wittmer gushes when she describes her new-found Park City home. Born and raised a farmer’s daughter in Kouts, Indiana (just across the border southeast of Chicago), she’d never been out West before moving here just over a year ago.
"It’s a new beginning for me. I’ve never lived in the mountains before, not even visited," she said, admitting, "I’m still having some elevation issues."
She’s noticed a marked difference since moving here. "The people here seem to be happier and healthier than back home," she said. "On the Rail Trail, people actually stop and talk to you. That’s refreshing."
Wittmer grew up on the flat lands, riding ATVs, snowmobiles and dirt bikes, climbing trees and playing in the fields.
"In the summers we went boating and water skiing when dad wasn’t busy farming," she said.
She graduated from Kouts High School and attended a year of college at Indiana University before marrying and settling down to raise a family. Her favorite subject was math. "I have an analytical mind," she explained.
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After almost half a lifetime in Indiana, she said she came here for a new beginning and a new job as a marketing executive with Marriott. Back home in Indiana, she’d retired early after a 20-year career as a commercial real estate broker and property manager.
"I’d have been here sooner, but I wanted to wait until my daughter graduated from high school," she said.
A single parent, Wittmer is the mother of two children: Cody, 21, and Katy, 19. Both chose to stay behind to finish their college careers when she made her leap of faith to Utah.
The divorced mom describes herself as a shy-at-first, fun-loving person.
Working with Marriott time-share owners, Wittmer says she loves her job. "I have the best boss," she said.
"I’ve also gone back to college," she said proudly.
The 43-year-old is attending Indiana Wesleyan University, taking online classes toward a degree in business management.
"I’m really excited about it," she said. "I want the degree just to prove I can and do inspire my college kids. If mom can do it, you can too."
Wittmer has also delved into service work since arriving here. Passionate about helping the homeless, those less fortunate and abused women, she’s working with other volunteers at Mountain Life Church to make "manna bags" filled with everyday essentials.
"They’re stuffed with things like water, snacks, toothpaste, brushes and soap," she said.
Wittmer’s favorite thing is exploring Park City’s multitude of trails with Ringo, her newly-adopted, rescued border collie. She said Parkites have a different relationship with their dogs.
"I’ve found that people here really treat their dogs well, much better than back home where we mostly had farm dogs," Witmer said. "I like that. It’s very cool."
She’s also bikes, though she’s staying mostly on the paved trails.
"I’m not ready for mountain biking yet," Witmer said with a grin on her face. "Coming from Indiana, the Rail Trail is like a mountain to me.
"It’s so beautiful here. There are peaceful places in these mountains. My favorite hiking trail so far is PC Mountain, only because I can see so far away, all the different mountain ranges. I love living here. Everywhere I go I’m just awestruck. I understand now why people move here and never leave."
- Favorite activities: hiking, biking and exploring for amazing views.
- Favorite foods: homemade pasta and pizza; Chinese and "comfy" foods.
- Favorite music/performers: all types, mostly country/Keith Urban.
- Animal companions: Ringo, a 3-year-old border collie from Nuzzles & Co. (formerly Furburbia). A rescue dog, he’s being trained by Powder Paws.
- Bucket list: travel, first to Alaska and the Netherlands; skydive.
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com.