Kathleen K. Bates

[Age 82] The longtime Baltimore County library staffer was manager of interlibrary loans at her retirement.

She enjoyed entertaining at home and was known for her love of song and poetry, which she recited from memory.

August 15, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporter

Kathleen K. Bates, former manager of interlibrary loans for the Baltimore County Public Library and a longtime Stoneleigh resident, died Aug. 8 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Holly Hill Manor nursing home. She was 82.

Kathleen Yuile was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the coming of World War II, she was sent to a convent school in southern Ireland. She later attended high school at Methodist College in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

After the German Luftwaffe bombed Belfast in 1941, she left school to work in the war office.

She met and fell in love with Lloyd MacNeil Bates, a Canadian Royal Air Force navigator, whom she married in 1945.

After living in Nova Scotia, they moved to Baltimore in 1956 when Mr. Bates accepted a position as a physicist at the University of Maryland. He died in 2001.

Mrs. Bates, who was known by friends and colleagues as Kay, began her library career in 1963 as a clerk and was later promoted to assistant manager of the Towson branch. She was interlibrary loan manager at the time of her 1992 retirement.

"She had the most delightful lilting accent and glint in her eye," recalled Jim DeArmey, coordinator of the library's information services department.

"She had lots of character and strong principles, and treated people based on personal merit and not their station in life. And she didn't suffer fools gladly," he said.

Mrs. Bates' style was very evident to those who came in contact with her.

"You could tell she was raised well and that proprieties always must be observed. She set a certain tone," Mr. DeArmey said. "She had these little phrases, like when a guest came to her home, she'd say, `At last,' and when they departed, she'd say, `So soon?'"

Mrs. Bates had a penchant for friendship and understanding the needs of others.

"Kay was just like the earth mother. She loved everybody and was a totally nurturing and caring person who took people under her wing," said Lynn Wheeler, former assistant library director and now director of the Carroll County Public Library.

Mrs. Bates, who loved organizing staff and thank-you volunteer parties at the library, was equally adept at entertaining at home.

"Kay and Lloyd could collect around them the most interesting, intelligent, glittering and genuine people," Mr. DeArmey said. "You were always fascinated to be with such a group and very flattered that you'd been included."

Ms. Wheeler recalled parties at Mrs. Bates' Sheffield Road home as being the perfect blend of "elegance and down-home hospitality."

"She was an excellent cook, and one of her specialties was penguins crafted out of hardboiled eggs and olives. These perfect little guys were carefully placed on a platter to create an Arctic scene," Ms. Wheeler said. "This was typical of her attention to detail, creativity and sense of fun."

Mrs. Bates enjoyed singing and reciting poetry from memory.

"I remember one fabulous night when we gathered around her piano and sang old hymns like `Railway to Heaven,' and old World War II vintage songs like `I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen' for hours," Ms. Wheeler said.

"She had a fondness for poetry with a Victorian tone of long-suffering and martyrdom, and often made references to portraits of St. Sebastian who was martyred by arrows," Mr. DeArmey said.

Mrs. Bates could at a moment's notice recite a significant line from a poem, if needed, or an entire poem, such as Christina Rossetti's "Uphill" or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life."

"If you could have heard her reciting these in her charming Irish accent, they would be written on your heart as well," Mr. DeArmey said. "It occurs to me that the phrase `written on your heart' is also one I first heard from Kay."

For years, Mrs. Bates wheeled to work in her trademark 1960s-era baby-blue Ford Galaxie 500 convertible, which was as much an extension of her personality as her poetry recitations and singing.

"She wouldn't make left turns and never went on the Beltway, so she had to take some circuitous routes to get from Point A to Point B," Ms. Wheeler said, laughing. "And if she offered to drive, she'd say, `Now, you all know I don't make left turns, so it may take us a little longer to get there.'"

"She will be remembered for her outspoken opinions on women's rights, nationalized health and other socialist causes, as well as her biting wit," said her daughter, Margaret R. Sullivan of Lutherville.

Services are private.

Also surviving is a son, Neil F. Bates of Perry Hall; and four grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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