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Memorials: Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Katherine Bejnar

Date of birth

May 31, 1923

Date of death

May 1, 2021

Meeting

Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Friend Katherine Bejnar, our dear Kitty, died peacefully at home on May 1, 2021, nearly 98 years old. Her family was with her in her home. She was born on May 31, 1923 to Adelaide H. Maghee Putnam Marble and John Putnam Marble.

Kitty grew up as a Quaker - with dashes of other religions added in - and she wrote a Quaker autobiography in her inimitable wry and forthright style. We include a few excerpts in this minute.

Kitty’s father was a Friend and she says of her religious upbringing: “We went to Quaker Sunday School (First Day School) in Cambridge and frequently to the Florida Avenue Meeting House (Washington D.C.) with the parents. My mother was not the least bit religious but for the sake of our Judeo-Christian background, forced us to attend a convenient Presbyterian Sunday School for several years. Daddy read a chapter in the Bible every Sunday after dinner and then explained it to us, often tongue in cheek. We skipped the “begat” chapters but still never reached the New Testament.”

With her sharp intellect she graduated second in her class at Sidwell Friends School in Washington ,D.C. She describes being moved to speak in Florida Avenue Meeting for the first time, as a young woman, at her father’s memorial, with some direct truths about how she saw his strengths and weaknesses.

College took Kitty to Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts during the World War II years and where she studied geology. After college she worked for the US Geological Society and through work met her husband Waldemere Bejnar, marrying him on September 7, 1947. Five children followed: Thaddeus, Craig, Diana, Tarn and Tor, and in more recent years five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren arrived. The family first lived in Las Vegas NM where Wally taught geology and Kitty worked as a geology lab instructor at Highlands University and then in Socorro NM where they built a house in 1956. Kitty was a reinvigorating and active member of a lively Meeting in Las Vegas, and after retirement she was the backbone of a worship group in Socorro.

Her membership was initially in the Las Vegas Monthly Meeting, later in the Santa Fe Monthly Meeting and after the family permanently moved to Socorro in 1979 membership was held by Albuquerque Monthly Meeting. Kitty described herself as a lifelong Quaker.

Kitty was active in a number of community and Quaker endeavors. In addition to sustaining the worship groups she participated in, she was the treasurer of NM Regional Meeting for over 25 years. In 1995 Albuquerque Meeting minuted gratitude for her service in an on-going prison ministry. In Socorro she and Quaker friend Jean Roath were instrumental in starting a weekly Peace Vigil on the town plaza that was first held after September 11, 2001 and continues to the present day, upheld by local like-minded people and one Friend.

Involvement with Intermountain Yearly Meeting was important to Kitty. She was present during its early fellowship years and at its founding. She served on Finance Committee and brought her grandchildren in the 1990’s. With the support of Socorro Friends she was able to attend Ghost Ranch annual gathering one last time in 2007.

Kitty lived out her last years in her home - a family compound under cottonwoods on a quiet lane south of Socorro. She regularly convened the Socorro Worship group and stated proudly that there was space for three wheel chairs in her living room - and often all spaces were in use.