So bad did Errington feel after hearing the news of her son that she didn’t know if she’d get through the night. “Through the tragedy of losing my son, I realized that I had left God,” she said. “But He never left me."
Over the next five years, as she also saw her brother, mother and favorite uncle die, Errington also sensed God’s presence in every difficult time.
“In each situation, I had an experience of my faith getting me through everything,” she said. So many things happened in that first year after my son’s death. I knew that God was holding me in his hands. I just felt it.”
So Errington chose to be the best Christian she could be.
That included helping families who dealt with tragedy and loss, making a coloring book that was distributed to 60,000 children, starting a class on how to pray, doing mission work in Nicaragua and Puerto Vallarta and holding an executive position with Rotary International.
And six years after moving to Southwest Florida, Katy Errington joined the Estero Village Council, which led her to becoming the community’s first female mayor on March 17, 2021.
“When Katy and Garth Errington participated in the GPS Life Journey to bring better clarity and specific strategy to their life purposes, I was so encouraged that two prominent community leaders were so focused on making a real difference in the community,” said Nolen Rollins, President of Kingdom Mobilization and GPS Life Journey. “They are individuals who live their lives on purpose."
God’s early influence
As a child, Errington had been intrigued by the mysteries of God.
Unbeknownst to her family, she’d read the family Bible at night.
“The King James version,” she said. “I read with a flashlight in the dark. I had no idea what I was reading. It scared me to death.”
Over time, Errington admitted to drifting away from the Bible and church.
A school administrator in Ohio, her husband was superintendent of schools. They were in different school districts. A typical Sunday was getting up and reading the paper and resting.
“I remember someone asked me, ‘Are you a Christian?’ I said, ‘I think so, I’m not sure. But it became clear to me.”
On Oct. 29, 1992, five Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment and seven airmen from the 1st Special Operations Air Wing died when the MH-60G Pave Hawk they were riding in crashed about 100 yards off the northern tip of Antelope Island. It’s the largest of 10 islands located within the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
Kesler was one of the seven Air Force servicemen.
The group was participating in a mobility and readiness training exercise in bad weather.
“A hailstorm came up,” Errington said. “Their commander didn’t contact them to turn back and the pilot had vertigo. Of the 13 on board, 12 died.”
In 1995, brother Lee, a Vietnam veteran, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and later committed suicide.
In 1997, her mother died after suffering from a brain tumor. “I went there on extended weekends for nine months and took time off from work,” Errington said. “She said, ‘I’ve watched you and you can’t continue this. I have to go into assisted living.’"
“In each situation, I had an experience of my faith getting me through everything.
So many things happened in that first year after my son’s death. I knew that God was holding me in his hands. I just felt it.”
Shortly after her son’s death, the Errington's were invited by a fellow Rotarian to visit his Presbyterian church.
“I said, ‘I don’t know how to pray,’" she recalled. “So we decided to start a class on how to pray. It was marvelous."
“Through the death of my son, I reached out to people who were grieving. I remember people asking me questions as they were hurting.”
At another Rotary meeting, a speaker talked about the war in Bosnia and Croatia. He explained people lived in hotels. At night, they’d come out as families and eat in the lobby.
Errington wondered what the children did all day. That gave her the idea to make a coloring book, which the Rotarians backed.
Charles Scripps of the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, a fellow Rotarian, offered to make a cartoon strip. Instead, Errington chose to collaborate with James Kalsbeek, a Penn State professor who specializes in topics related to memory and architecture, the mnemonic function of architecture and the history of the memory arts.
She told the stories and he did the drawing.
“When we first published it, we didn’t have a story line,” she said. “We created a story for each page. We started with love. We asked, ‘What is love?’
“I used the fruits of spirit. Jesus said, ‘I’m the vine. The branches are fruit of the spirit.’"
“I didn’t want to get preachy because there are all different faiths. We didn’t want our faith to turn people off; but you can’t argue love.”
Over 10-15 years, Rotarians gave away 60,000 books to children around the world.
After retiring in 2004, Errington came to Southwest Florida where she and Garth built a condo.
In 2009, they moved to Estero full time.
A few years later, a developer bought land next to their community and wanted to build a big development.
“He had no respect for what we wanted,” she said. “Something led me to lead a protest.”
While her group of protestors didn’t win, Errington said they got the developer to reduce the number of apartments and put in businesses like a Sprouts and Starbucks.
“In the end, we did win,” she said. “Maybe not win but speak up, don’t give up.”
While walking her dog, Errington ran into a neighbor who said she ought to run for Estero Council. She did and won by 197 votes despite being an outsider plus a woman to boot. She was a member of the first Estero Council on March 17, 2015.
“What to do with her?” Errington remembers sensing council members’ feelings. “It wasn’t always pretty but I tried to maintain my dignity. I never played the woman card. It’s whoever can do the job.”
Six years later, Errington is now the mayor. She is leading a village that is looking at its largest growth spurt in history. In the next decade, Estero is estimated to grow from 32,000 plus to 50,000.
“We have a good foundation,” she said. “We have to stay on that foundation and continue moving forward.”
From taking Rollins class, Errington liked the give-and-take and that “It didn’t matter where you were in life. Everyone continues to strive.”
From all her experiences, she has learned an important thing – “Your purpose today may not be your purpose tomorrow."
“We’re not locked into a purpose. Your purpose can change. There are things going on in our lives where we can have purpose."
“And I’m always intrigued by that.”
If you would like to share your story with the world, do let us know, we’d be delighted to shine a spotlight on you and your impact.
Mobilizing the world with you…
Nolen Rollins, Founder & President of GPS Life Journey