Katherine Downs (KD) Sprout Zabriskie first came to Aurora as a Wells student and though she left briefly to earn a Masters in Social Work at SU, the village soon became her home, the center of her marriage, her family and her community. A close friend once said of her that “she made doing good fun”. Optimistic by nature, out-going and inclusive, she gathered people together for the betterment of everyone, leading by infectious enthusiasm. Her Wells College senior essay entitled, “The Earth as a Focus for the 21st Century” encouraged people to develop a heightened awareness and sensitivity to the natural and human world around them and to participate actively in community affairs. That philosophy guided her actions on a daily basis.
KD was active in the social and cultural affairs of Aurora. She and her husband, Ken, became community leaders, hosting many social gatherings for a wide range of local residents and visitors at their home and motivating important cultural programs in the Village. KD was a founding board member of Peachtown Elementary School and she and Ken were part of the original group of dedicated people who undertook the revival of the Morgan Opera House; grant writing, fund-raising and investing countless hours of “sweat equity” in its restoration.
Characteristic of KD’s attachment to the community was her love of what she often called “home-made music” and she was especially fond of music in the American folk idiom. She recognized early on that the intimate feel of the Morgan Opera House, its late Victorian styling and its wonderful acoustics made it a perfect venue for acoustic folk music. The Morgan Opera House initiated the Zabriskie Folk Series in her memory. A wide spectrum of artists have performed in her honor, as KD’s memory inspires the gathering of people together in this wonderful auditorium to share music with deep roots in the American tradition.