Kathryn E. Mitchell, 52, historic preservationist

July 05, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Kathryn Emerson Mitchell, a developer and preservationist who helped create the historic Shipcarpenter Square neighborhood in Lewes, Del., and later taught English to Eastern European students, died June 28 at Hospice of Northern Virginia in Arlington after a four-year battle with breast cancer. She was 52.

Miss Mitchell, who retained her maiden name and was known as Kem, was born in Baltimore and reared in Granite. A 1968 graduate of Garrison Forest School, she earned her bachelor's degree in sociology in 1973 from Trinity College in Washington.

In the 1970s, she worked for the Peace Corps as an administrator in Chicago and Washington.

The Lewes resident was married in 1979 to T. David Dunbar, who survives her.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the couple rescued and later restored historic 18th- and 19th-century structures that were relocated to an empty 11-acre city block in Lewes. The neighborhood was later christened Shipcarpenter Square.

The couple received wide praise and press coverage for their novel approach to historic preservation of structures whose fate was either demolition or de facto neglect.

In 1995, she moved to Eastern Europe with her husband, a development assistant with the U.S. Agency for International Development. She taught English to students in Moscow, Warsaw and Bucharest until returning to Lewes last year.

She was an active member of the International Women's Association and, while living abroad, worked as a volunteer assisting the disabled and working with HIV-infected children.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Smith and Greeley avenues in Mount Washington.

In addition to her husband, Miss Mitchell is survived by two daughters, Christine Amanda Dunbar of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Bevan Lloyd Dunbar of Lewes; her mother, Joanne C. Mitchell, and a brother, Lloyd E. Mitchell Jr., both of Palm City, Fla.; and three sisters, Joanne M. Mitzo of Winter Springs, Fla., Mary Claire McCormick of Centreville, Va., and Susan R. Mitchell of Timonium.

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