Kit Hastings, 89, formerly of Potsdam, passed away peacefully on February 5, 2018 at Riverledge Nursing Home in Ogdensburg, where she had been a resident since 2016.
Arrangements are under the direction of LaRue & Pitcher Funeral Home, Ogdensburg.
Kit was born Kitty Lou D’Ippolito in Santa Monica, CA in December 1928, the daughter of noted saxophonist Kathryne E. Thompson and orchestra conductor Luigi Ciro Giuseppe D’Ippolito.
From an early age, Kit was a lover of language—her first words were a full sentence—and writing was a passion she maintained throughout her life. Her work appeared in the literary journal Transatlantic Review and was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and a collection of stories, Butterfly Blues, was published in 1976. Her short stories were described as “Camus-like, condensed novels”. In addition to writing creatively, she also spent many years as a medical editor where her sharp eye was appreciated in technical papers. Kit was also very proud of her work with Argentinian theatre group Teatro Tamboril, in which she wrote, acted and danced, instructed by renowned Spanish flamenco dancer Luisa Triana.
One of Kit’s favorite quotes was Nietzsche’s “Without music, life would be a mistake.” She first studied violin at the age of four, tucked between her mother’s knees so she couldn’t squirm away. She later settled on cello, and when still a teenager moved to Philadelphia on her own to study with the famous cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and attend the Curtis Institute of Music. Although those studies were interrupted by the birth of her daughter in 1949, she returned to music to work as a Hollywood studio musician and later studied with Nicolas “Kolia” Levienne of the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society and attended a master class with famed Catalan cellist Pablo Casals. In retirement she taught herself bass and played in several local ensembles.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Kit was active in the civil rights movement in Berkeley, CA and marched at Selma, AL and ferried conscientious objectors to Canada during the Vietnam War. Despite being an outspoken atheist her entire life, she spent time working with the Quakers and Catholic Charities to advance the causes of peace and education.
Kit suffered her share of tragedy, losing her first husband Robert T. Hastings less than a year into their marriage and then her only daughter Roberta Carolyn Hastings in 1973. Following her daughter’s death she raised her grandson Morgan, whom she called the “light of her life,” to be an accomplished young musician, moving to the East Coast so he could study French horn at the prestigious New England Conservatory and Eastman School of Music. Later, Kit settled in Potsdam, NY to be near her great-grandson William Baker-Hastings, in whom she had tremendous pride. A confirmed animal lover, she also loved to lavish affection on her pet dachshunds.
Kit is survived by grandson Morgan Hastings of Canton, NY; great-grandson William Baker-Hastings of Potsdam, NY; sister Carolyn Ayers of Palos Verdes Estates, CA; niece Michele Ayers Clayton of Palos Verdes, CA; nephews Chris Ayers of Malaga Cove, CA and Russell Ayers of Huntington Beach, CA; three great-nieces and nephews and two great-grand-nieces. She is very much missed by them and by dear friends both near and far.
In accordance with Kit’s wishes, there will be no funeral. Memorial donations may be made to the Potsdam Humane Society or Crane School of Music (via Potsdam College Foundation).
Online condolences may be made at www.LaRuePitcher.com.