Kathryn Connor, a former teacher who was an official of Baltimore City’s Eating Together program for the elderly, died of coronavirus complications at the Broadmead Retirement Community on June 4. She was 84 and had lived in Lutherville.
Born Kathryn Hollingsworth Alford in Baltimore and raised on Winston Avenue in Govans, she was the daughter of Gilbert Alford, president of the Hollingsworth Machine Co. and his wife, Kathryn Adams. She was known as Kitty and was a 1953 graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore, where she played sports. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Richmond, then known as Southampton College.
She was born a Quaker and was a lifelong a member of the Stony Run Meeting.
“Her fondest memories of childhood were riding horses with her father on the Eastern Shore,” said her brother, F. Gale Connor Jr. of San Francisco.
While studying in Richmond, she met her future husband, F. Gale Connor Sr., who became an executive at Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point. They married on June 25, 1957. Her husband died in 2015.
After graduation, she worked as a preschool teacher at Friends School while she raised two children.
“She was a hard worker and was ahead of her times as an independent women,” said her daughter, Caryl Connor of Lutherville.
In 1976 she was hired by the Baltimore City Health Department as an outreach worker for its “Eating Together” program serving low- and fixed-income seniors. In 1977 she was among the first students to be awarded a Certificate in Gerontology from Baltimore City Community College. During the 1980s she worked as a supervisor with the Baltimore City Commission on Aging.
“She managed the centers for seniors who lived in highrise apartments,” said her daughter, “Her jurisdiction was half the city and was responsible for going to all the sites. She believed the elderly had more needs than just food alone. She loved the program because it addressed the community. Working with everybody in the city was enriching to her. She was a people person until the day she died.”
She retired in 1991 and moved to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia where she and her husband built a home, and she opened an antique show room in the Antiques House.
“In the back of her mind she always wanted to be in the antique business,” said her daughter. “Her parents and her husband’s families owned antiques which she inherited and began researching. She also liked to go to yard sales. She loved the hunt. And she loved to tell stories about the human side of what she sold. Every piece came with a story.”
After her husband’s 2015 death, she moves to the Broadmead Retirement Community after residing at Mercy Ridge in Timonium.
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She was a founding member of The Older Women’s League of Baltimore and served on the boards of the Women’s Housing Coalition, Foster Grandparents and the Humane Society of Morgan County. She was known for her love of animals and rescuing stray dogs.
“People would call her to come and pick up stray dogs,” said her daughter.
Throughout her life she was guided by Quaker teachings of justice through social action. This led to her active involvement in the antiwar movements from the Vietnam war through the invasion of Iraq and the the fight for racial justice, the United Farmworker’s grape and lettuce boycotts, anti-apartheid movement, the Women’s Movement and the fight for rights of the elderly, her son said.
“She was an activist all her adult life. It took the Sixties to awaken her,” her daughter said. “She was a role model who never gave up fighting for equality for all. She never stopped trying to make the world a better place, and I am a better person because of her.”
In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include two granddaughters.
A memorial service is being planned for August.