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Charlotte Lee Kilbourn Kress ’44

A picture of Charlotte Kilbourn Easter Kress

Charlotte Lee Kilbourn Easter Kress ’44, November 10, 2011, in Missoula, Montana. Charlotte was born in Chicago and moved with her parents to a mining camp in the Colorado Rockies, where her father worked as an engineer. She earned a BA in sociology from Reed, financing her education by working in navy shipyards. She worked for the Red Cross in France during World War II, crossing the Atlantic in a ship convoy. On the Mediterranean in Nice, France, during the war she met Robert B. Easter; they married in 1947. The couple lived in Missoula, built a summer cabin on Inez Lake, and raised three children. Charlotte was very involved in her children’s many activities. She led Camp Fire Girl groups, supported the Missoula music program, and helped to initiate a local swim team. She was passionate about wildlife, conservation, and environmental issues. She joined Missoula’s Gals Against Smog and Air Pollution, served as president of the Missoula Sierra Club chapter, and lobbied for environmental groups in Helena, Montana. She earned an MS in environmental studies from the University of Montana at 60. Her love of adventure took her to the top of Mount St. Helens, on an African safari, and in one of the first tour groups to travel in China after the borders opened. She participated in disaster relief efforts with the American Red Cross in St. Louis and interviewed prospective Reedies. Charlotte wrote that Reed helped expand her tolerance and understanding of others’s ideas, activated to a greater degree curiosity and interest in intellectual and political forces, and emphasized a need for action. “It strengthened a natural interest in doing something not limited to material gain, but contributing something to the betterment of world situations.” Charlotte married Jackson Kress in 1997; they were gloriously happy together until his death in May 2011. Her survivors include a son and two daughters; two stepsons and one stepdaughter; eight grandchildren; and her brother. A gracious, giving, intelligent, adventurous, and loving individual, “she lived her life with the belief that obstacles were there to be overcome and that dreams could be achieved if one put forth a bit of effort.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2012

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