Pioneer Greenbelter Kathleen Scott McFarland died on April 11, 2023 at the age of 95. She was born February 9, 1928, in Panama City, Florida, to Robert L. (Red) Scott and Mary Deisinger Scott. Her parents were both working in Florida--her dad a heavy-equipment operator from Tennessee, her mother a daughter of German immigrant farmers in Pennsylvania. A year later, the family was in Charleston, S.C., where her dad worked on the Cooper River Bridge and her sister Joanne was born. By 1930, the family had relocated to Washington, D.C., where her dad helped build the Memorial Bridge and her brother Robert was born.
In Washington, the family rented the bottom half of an old house in the Brightwood neighborhood. In April 1938, when Kathleen was 10 years old, her parents applied for and were accepted to become residents of the new town of Greenbelt. They moved to 4-G Southway when the sod was still being put down. Her mother said the move came “just in the nick of time,” since the old house in Washington was scheduled to be razed for apartments and there was a severe housing shortage.
The three Scott children soon adapted to their new life in Greenbelt, going to Center School (so different from their strict Catholic school in Washington), taking swimming lessons at the pool, and having playmates galore in each court. They joined Scouts and Cubs and made new friends. In 1940 the Greenbelt Community Band was formed for young people 12 to 18 years old, and Kathleen learned to play the clarinet. The Band became a large part of her life.
In 1941, Kathleen’s baby sister Rosemary was born, and the Scotts applied for one of the few larger houses that had a basement. Under Government rules, these homes were reserved for “larger” families; and now having four children, the Scotts qualified and moved into 7-K Crescent Road. They loved that house, and it was Kathleen’s home from high school to her marriage. She graduated from Greenbelt High School in 1944 at age 16 and kept in touch with her high-school friends all her life.
Just before graduation, Kathleen and some of her friends participated in a scholarship contest for a 1-year secretarial course at Strayer Business College. Kathleen was surprised to learn that she had won the contest and was convinced by her practical parents to take the course. She spent the next year traveling by bus and streetcar to Strayer in downtown Washington and never regretted it, taking shorthand, typing, business English, and accounting. She put her new talents to use by working the next 2 years at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm in Beltsville and later in the Plant Industry Station headquarters on Route 1. She attended Trinity College in Washington for 2 years before her marriage to her Greenbelt High classmate and fellow clarinetist, Henry T. McFarland, on April 30, 1949.
As newlyweds, the McFarlands lived in a Parkway apartment until 1953, after the Government sold the town and Greenbelt Homes Inc. (GHI) took over. Then they bought their first house, a two-bedroom, at 7-E Southway. As their family grew, they moved at Christmas 1955 to a 3-bedroom at 38-F Ridge Road. By 1962, with seven children, they needed more room – but wanted to stay in Greenbelt. That’s when they bought their house on Fayette Place in the new Lakewood subdivision, where their 8 th child, Helen, was born, and where Kathleen lived until the end of her life.
There was a 15-year span of McFarland children, so life was always busy – school activities, piano lessons, 4-H meetings (including being a club leader), church groups, and Boy Scouts – and later, weddings, in-laws, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren. She was a great support to her husband, who supplemented his “day job” at Goddard Space Flight Center by playing saxophone and leading “Heinrich and the Rheinlanders,” a polka band that played at Blob’s Park in Jessup and at many local celebrations from the late 1950s until the mid-70s. In addition to raising children, in the 1960s she worked for Capital Library Service, converting the Chesapeake Community College library holdings from the Dewey Decimal Classification System to that of the Library of Congress. In 1973, Kathleen went back to work as a secretary for USDA’s Consumer and Food Economics Institute, retiring in 1989.
Kathleen was an original member of St. Hugh’s Catholic Church, singing in the choir as a teenager even before the formal parish was established and Mass was celebrated in the Greenbelt Theatre. She joined the Sodality of the Blessed Mother as a newlywed and after retirement became active in the Ladies of Charity, serving as President. In recent years she enjoyed activities with the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement at the Washington Retreat House and at their Graymoor Motherhouse in Garrison, New York, and was named an Associate of the Sisters in 2013. She nursed her husband through his final years with Parkinson’s Disease, and after his death in 2003, she joined the Patuxent Widowed Persons Service Group, serving as its secretary for 10 years. She also contributed occasional articles and travelogues to the Greenbelt News Review and wrote the Our Neighbors column for 10 years. For fun, in retirement she joined the Greenbelt Golden Age Club and went on many trips with the “Mary and Barry” travel group. In 2014, she was greatly honored by being named Greenbelt’s “Outstanding Citizen.” Kathleen loved her family, her neighbors, her many friends and colleagues in choirs, bands, church groups, and clubs, and her family’s many pets. She enjoyed gardening, reading, watching films and sports (especially tennis), and keeping abreast of local and international news. Kathleen was generous, kind, always helpful, and had a terrific sense of humor and laugh; she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Kathleen was devastated by the sudden death of her 7th child, Jackie McFarland, on March 22, 2023, but was able to offer comfort to her family as they processed their grief before she required a brief hospitalization and passed peacefully in her third day of hospice care. Kathleen was predeceased by her husband Henry T. McFarland, sister Joanne Kennedy, brother Robert L. Scott Jr., grandsons Mick Dodge and David Dodge, and niece Mary Kennedy Little. She is survived by her sister Rosemary Scott of Greenbelt; 7 children: Karen of Greenbelt; Karl (Karen White) of Odenton; Lisa (Richard Tovar) of Lakewood, CA; Janis (Richard McLaughlin) of Chapel Hill, NC; Joan (Michael Chyatte) of Silver Spring; Anne of Greenbelt; and Helen (Joe O’Sullivan) of Sparks, MD; grandchildren Erin, Erika, and Elizabeth Thomas; Marina and Connor McFarland; Kathleen Quinn and Ryan McLaughlin; and Samantha Chyatte; great-grandchildren Henry Thomas, Sebastian Bohrer, Violet and Scarlet Sandrus, and Sky and Sage Quinn. She also leaves several first cousins and many Kennedy and Scott nieces and nephews.
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