Katharine P. Thornton, SPCA chief

November 30, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Staff Writer

Katharine Purnell Thornton, who was president of the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, died Wednesday at her Roland Park home. She was 73.

Known as "Kitty," she was interested in animals all her life and bTC grew up on Hilton Farm, a family farm near Catonsville that today is the grounds of Catonsville Community College. The old family home houses the college's administrative offices.

She was a frequent contributor to the Letters to the Editor column of The Sun, where she took up the cause of animal rights. She decried the beating to death of jack rabbits in the name of population control by hundreds of farmers armed with clubs, and the two "fishermen" who stoned and clubbed to death trout that had been stocked in Roland Park's Stony Run for children to catch after damming up the stream and trapping them.

She had been active in the SPCA for more than two decades and helped to establish an educational outreach program and modernized the kennel facilities. She also helped get the Falls Road headquarters, the old Ridgely mansion, placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A world traveler, she traveled to Africa and Asia to view wild animals in their natural habitats.

An active churchwoman, she was a member of the Altar Guild, bowling league and duplicate bridge club at St. David's Episcopal Church on Roland Avenue. She also was responsible for the establishment and installation of the columbarium at the church, one of the first churches in the area to have one.

She was active in the Union Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Women's Eastern Shore Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Ivy Garden Club and the Daffodil Society.

She and her husband, John T. Thornton, an agent for the Hartford Insurance Co., were married in 1944. He died in 1981.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. today at St. David's Church, 4700 Roland Ave., Baltimore.

She is survived by a son, Henry J. Thornton of Baltimore; two daughters, Katharine T. Gaskill of Brookeville and Terry T. Lough of Mount Washington; a brother; John H. Purnell of Chestertown; and six grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to St. David's or the Union Memorial Hospital hospice program.

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