Catharine Marcella Foy Mackintosh, a longtime librarian at the Bryn Mawr School and an enthusiastic world traveler, died Dec. 27 at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center after a brief illness. She was 79.
Miss Mackintosh, whose greatest loves were books and visits to faraway places, fell ill with an undiagnosed ailment last month after returning from a visit to Nairobi, Kenya, and a cruise on the Indian Ocean, according to her friends.
The Canadian-born Miss Mackintosh was known as a stylish, dramatic and adventurous bibliophile who "didn't look like a librarian."
"She looked like the Queen of England should look, but doesn't," said Clelia Carey, who was her assistant for nine years at Bryn Mawr.
Miss Mackintosh -- with her two sisters and brother -- was reared in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, after their parents died and a paternal uncle adopted them. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in British literature.
During World War II, she served in England and Belgium as a driver with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, which was affiliated with the Red Cross Ambulance Corp. After the war, she lived in Devon, England, for 10 years, briefly in South Africa, and then in the Cotswolds in England for another decade.
In 1965, she came to this country to work at Oldfields School in Glencoe, staying for four years. She then received a graduate degree in library science from Southern Connecticut State University and worked in Wolcott, Conn., as a librarian. In 1971, she moved to a farm in Owings Mills and began working as head librarian at the Bryn Mawr School.
At the farm, Miss Mackintosh made her home with Frances Matthai, who taught English and assisted in the library at Bryn Mawr. Because Miss Matthai raised donkeys and steers on the farm, Miss Mackintosh was known for leaving meetings with the dramatic pronouncement: "I must go. I must feed the steer!"
At Bryn Mawr, she also was known as a caring person to whom students could turn for advice on topics from books to life.
Over the years, Miss Mackintosh's travels included annual visits to England, trips to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, France and Turkey.
"She was a delightful British lady who spoke with a pronounced and lively accent. Truly she was a world traveler with friends literally all over the world," said Thomas D. Washburne, a Baltimore attorney whose two daughters once accompanied Miss Mackintosh on a trip to Russia.
After retiring from Bryn Mawr in 1984, Miss Mackintosh %o reorganized the catalog system of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. She also offered an annual public speaking (( award to Bryn Mawr students because "she felt that children didn't enunciate well -- it was to encourage better speech," said her long-time friend Mary McPherson, who first met her in England.
"I remember, once, a game being played at Bryn Mawr: We asked all the faculty what they would take if they were marooned on a desert island. A lot of people said Shakespeare or the Bible. One teacher said 'I would take Catharine Mackintosh,' " Mrs. Carey said. "That was the way we all felt: There was never any excitement in life unless Catharine was around."
There are no close surviving relatives.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Jan. 7 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Glyndon.
Memorial donations may be made to the Bryn Mawr School Library, 109 W. Melrose Ave., Baltimore 21210.