By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT MITCHELL - Artist Kate Bilbo knew she didn't need pretty landscapes or flowers for inspiration. She knew if she looked within she could use her experiences - painful and pleasant - to produce poignant works of art.
As a student at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, she excelled as an artist and a writer. She could read short stories that left her fellow students speechless and could paint what could not be explained through words alone.
"She had a really unique approach to life and unique responses to things," said her mother, Rebecca Bilbo of Fort Mitchell. "She was very perceptive and had her own style. She could take an ordinary T-shirt and make it look fabulous."
Katherine "Kate" Bilbo died Friday at St. Elizabeth Medical Center North after an extended illness. The Fort Mitchell resident was 21. Because of her ability to transition from writing to art, she was asked to be the art editor of Thomas More's literary magazine, Words. And because she was interested in so many subjects - including psychology and philosophy - when asked what she studied, she said simply, "I study whatever intrigues me."
Although Ms. Bilbo's artwork and poetry was personal and reflective in nature, she readily shared her work with others - even if that meant writing passages of her poems on walls. An advocate to those who follow their own path, "she loved to befriend people on the fringes," her mother said. "She was drawn to others as unique as her."
A gifted tennis player in high school, Ms. Bilbo also played tennis for Thomas More.
Besides her mother, other survivors include her father, Dr. James Bilbo of Fort Mitchell; a sister, Caroline Bilbo of Fort Mitchell; a brother, Thomas of Fort Mitchell; paternal grandparents, Dr. Richard and Beverly Bilbo of Syracuse, N.Y.; and maternal grandfather Gordon Wright of Syracuse.
Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at Blessed Sacrament Church, 2409 Dixie Hwy., Fort Mitchell. Mass of Christian burial will follow at the church. Burial will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. John's Cemetery, Fort Mitchell.
Memorials can be made to Thomas More Art Gallery Building Fund in Memory of Kate Bilbo, c/o The Bank of Kentucky, 111 Lookout Farm Drive, Crestview Hills, 41017.
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