Kathy Schiffer is a Catholic blogger. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Zenit, the Michigan Catholic, Legatus Magazine, and other Catholic publications. She’s worked for Catholic and other Christian ministries since 1988, as radio producer, director of special events and media relations coordinator. Kathy and her husband, Deacon Jerry Schiffer, have three adult children.
It was supposed to be a very special birthday celebration. Ninety-year-old Ralph Woltering and his wife Olga had traveled from their home in Marietta, Georgia, to go on a cruise.
But then a shooter opened fire with a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol in the baggage area at Fort Lauderdale Airport—gunning down Olga, 84, and four other travelers. Six others were wounded in the attack by 26-year-old Esteban Ruiz Santiago, a military veteran who, according to reports, experienced "terroristic thoughts" in which "he believed he was being influenced by ISIS."
The Wolterings had changed their flight arrangements, leaving a day earlier than originally planned in an effort to escape severe winter storms which threatened to delay travel throughout the South. That schedule change proved deadly, putting them at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at 12:55 p.m. January 6. The change ultimately cost Olga her life. Olga died of a gunshot wound, with her husband at her side.
Who Were the Wolterings?
Olga Woltering was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, where she attended Priory Heath Secondary School. She met her husband Ralph during World War II, when he was stationed in Suffolk, and she moved to the United States in 1955. Olga and Ralph were enthusiastic great-grandparents.
The Wolterings were also devout Catholics. They've been active at their parish, the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Cobb County, Georgia, since 1978. According to reports, Ralph was active in the local Knights of Columbus Council #10362; and Olga was a member of the K of C Ladies Auxiliary and was active in many parish ministries.
Although the couple lived in a retirement community, they remained active. Alvin Connolly, a fellow parishioner at Transfiguration, reminisced about Olga, telling CBS News that “She and her husband were kind of the life of the party. They’d go to a dance, and they’d be the last ones on the floor.”
The Wolterings' family released a statement regarding their mother, saying,
“Her bright smile and loving manner will be missed by all who had the fortune to know her. She rarely seemed to meet a stranger, rather she had a smile or a hug for all. She was a blessing in the lives of family and friends.”
Catholic Parish Grieves the Loss of One of Their Own
Father Fernando Molina-Restrepo, pastor at Transfiguration Catholic Church, said, “Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring and committed people I have ever met. This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved.”
An announcement of Olga's death has been posted on the Transfiguration parish website. It reads:
It is with heavy hearts that we report that one of our parishioners, Olga Woltering, was killed in the Ft. Lauderdale airport tragedy.
Olga and her husband, Ralph, could always be found at 5:00 pm Mass, in the front of the Tabernacle side. They were always happy and approachable!
Ralph is a member of Knights of Columbus and Olga was active in many ministries.
Olga was so charming, calling everybody "Lovey" or "Love" in her unmistakable British accent. The picture above shows her normal face, complete with her beaming smile!
Her life revolved around her kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and hundreds of extended family at Transfiguration.
There are no further details available at this time, but Fr. Fernando Molina-Restrepo says, "Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring and committed people I have ever met. This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved. Olga and Ralph have been members of our Transfiguration Family since October 1978. May God give consolation to all of the victims of this tragedy and may God give eternal rest to those who died. Especially to our beloved Olga. Peace."