Katherine “Kate” Nasfay Scott died on January 16, 2023 at Oak Hammock Retirement
Community in Gainesville, Florida, surrounded by loved ones.
Kate was born on New Year’s Day 1932 in Budapest, Hungary, to Arpad Nasfay and
Edith Szalagyi. Kate retained a lilting Hungarian accent for the rest of her life as well as
happy memories of her early childhood. She and her little sister, Suzie, lived and played
in the handsome house provided to her father as the Royal Forester of the Esterhazy’s.
When Kate was twelve, her family was forced to flee Hungary to Bavaria, ahead of the
Russian invasion. They were among the millions of “displaced persons” after the war.
They lived in a refugee camp for four years while awaiting resettlement.
Kate and her family emigrated, relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1949. Kate
attended the University of Pennsylvania and later Radcliffe College where she earned
her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Radcliff did not offer chemistry classes, so Kate
took chemistry at Harvard, one of only two women allowed to do so at that time.
Kate met her future husband, Thomas A. Scott, while at Penn and they later married at
Harvard between classes – the only time available to the busy and financially struggling
students. Their son, James, was born in 1956.
The family moved to Gainesville, Florida two years later. Thomas was an assistant
professor of Physics at the University of Florida and Kate worked as a technician at the
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences while earning her masters and doctorate in
Chemistry. She completed her post doctorate in Chemistry and became an assistant
professor in the Department of Radiology, with a joint appointment at the Veterans
Affairs Medical Center. Their daughter, Laura, was born in 1968.
Kate was an ambitious and excellent scientist. She became famous in scientific circles
for her pioneering work on the application of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and
spectroscopy in medicine, particularly as it applied to metabolism and vascular disease.
She also studied the effects of chemotherapy on cancerous tumors. She flourished
professionally while also raising a family — a rarity in her day.
Kate was known for a relaxed nature and her sunny outlook. She let her ten-year-old
son keep his collection of pet garter snakes in the bathtub, scaring the wits out of the
housekeeper when she went to clean the bathroom the next morning. Kate’s nephews
remember filling squirt guns with grape juice and spraying the bees in Kate’s yard —
Kate came home from work to purple splotches all over the floor and a swarm of angry
bees but she just laughed. Her cooking was described as “utilitarian” but Kate finished
every meal happily, saying she didn’t realize how hungry she was and how delicious the
food had been. Kate’s house was always open — her children returned as adults for
various stays and Kate owned multiple dogs, cats, and other pets throughout her life,
and often gave a home to stray animals.
Thomas died in in October 1979 and Kate met and married Carl E. Fritz in 1987, and
became a loving stepmother to his four children. Together Kate and Carl took up
ballroom dancing, winning many amateur competitions in Florida. Carl’s favorite dance
was the foxtrot, while Kate preferred the cha-cha, rhumba, and east coast swing.
Whenever there was music or dancing, Kate wanted to be a part of it. She once fell and
broke her ankle in her rush to join a conga line at a wedding.
Kate was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009 but the disease rarely dimmed her
beaming smile or changed her gentle voice with its distinct warble. She remained keenly
appreciative of show tunes, sometimes conducting an imaginary orchestra with her feet
as well as her hands, and when she was no longer able to write her name, she wrote it
as a mathematical equation. She loved numbers, animals, people-watching, tulips, thrift
stores, My Fair Lady, the color red, meals, parties, friends, and her family. She will be
She was predeceased by her husband Carl. Her sister, Suzie, died less than 48 hours
after Kate. Nothing could break their bond. Kate is survived by six children: James Scott
(Constance Scott); Laura Scott (Erick Vazquez); Mark Fritz (Amelia Fritz); David Fritz
(Kathie Fritz); Matthew Fritz (Claire Fritz); Jennifer Fritz (Donald Dunn); and many
grandchildren and great grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at Forest Meadows Funeral Home, 725 NW 23 rd Ave., Gainesville,
on Friday, January 27, 2023. Visitation begins at 10 am, followed by the service at 11
am. There will be a short private committal service at Forest Meadows Cemetery, 3700
SE Hawthorne Road at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a
donation to the Alzheimer's Foundation.