Kathleen Jennett was born on May 24, 1929 in Sheffield, England. She was the second daughter of George and Evangeline Wills Jennett. Her sister Audrey told us that Kathleen loved school and cherished the friendships she made there. She excelled at music and languages, and loved both learning and teaching. She became a primary grade school teacher, often leading school choirs and drama clubs.
Kathleen was always a good correspondent, and in fact, it was a “pen friend” from Canton, Ohio who invited her to make her first trip to the United States in 1955. While visiting there Kathleen had an interview with the Superintendent of Schools and was offered a teaching job on the spot. She returned on a permanent visa and taught in Ohio for the next twelve years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kent State University and in 1963 she became a naturalized US citizen.
In 1968 Kathleen took a break from classroom teaching and became a curriculum consultant for an educational publishing company. This job enabled her to travel all over New England, with her home base in Massachusetts. When she felt ready to teach again she took a job in Sudbury MA. She lived in several nearby towns, investing in rental properties over time. During this period she and her sister Audrey were both introduced to Quakerism by the British Quaker writer David Wills, their maternal uncle. Kathleen joined the Framingham, MA Meeting. One woman from that Meeting remembered Kathleen as an adventurous risk taker, always willing to try new things. Another Friend remembered being warmly welcomed into Meeting membership at Kathleen’s house where she and her family were served an authentic British feast.
When Kathleen decided to retire in 1988 she sold all her properties and began looking for a city with a temperate climate. She settled on the Portland area, and moved herself and her loyal cat, Patrick, across the country. She soon found Multnomah Friends Meeting and became an active participant in it. When the Meeting decided to form an Investment Committee Kathleen enthusiastically jumped in to do research about ethical investing. She loved attending the gatherings of the group of Friends over forty called “3M’s”. She enjoyed inviting all her Quaker friends over to celebrate the holidays.
In 1990 Kathleen had a house built for herself in Aloha, OR. She enjoyed decorating and landscaping it, and loved having time and space for all her hobbies: knitting, sewing, gardening, playing the piano and traveling, often in the company of her sister. After several happy years in Aloha, Kathleen began looking for a place nearer to the concerts and plays in Portland. She found what she hoped would be her final home at Marshall Union Manor. There she was constantly involved with cultural activities: teaching Music Appreciation for the Senior Studies Program, attending Elder Hostels, and taking classes at PSU. In 2007 she gave a triumphant piano recital to a large group of Manor residents and friends.
By the end of 2007 Kathleen was experiencing the effects of encroaching Alzheimer’s disease. In 2010 it became impossible for her to live alone. A group of Quakers set out to find her a living situation and were fortunate to find Rose City Adult Foster Care. There the entire Grejuc family made her feel safe and loved. She especially enjoyed living with their children and pets, and sharing meals with the other residents for three years.
Kathleen died suddenly on March 13, 2013 from a heart attack, mercifully spared from lingering pain. Many stories of her life were shared at her memorial service on April 28th, 2013. Her love of music, her enjoyment of education, her hospitality and her adventurous spirit were recalled and fondly celebrated.