Katherine V. "Kitty" Endslow, a retired educator who had taught in public schools in both Baltimore and Harford counties and had been active in Democratic Party politics, died Jan. 29 of cancer at Citizens Care Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Havre de Grace.
The former longtime Bel Air resident was 103.
Katherine Viola Archer, the daughter of farmers, was born on the family farm in Joppa. In 1909, she moved with her family to Pylesville when her father purchased another farm, Fairview, and established the Charles S. Archer Co., a cannery.
In an unpublished autobiography, Mrs. Endslow recalled her early years in the Pylesville house:
"There were six fireplaces including a huge one in the summer kitchen. This was typical in those early days for heating purposes. The extra large fireplace in the summer kitchen, I understand, was used for cooking or smoking and curing meats for preservation.
"With no television, radio and such advanced push button entertainment for growing children as we have today, we had to be creative. I had my toy piano and Charles [Charles S. Archer Jr., a brother] had his toy drum, but they were a 'no no' when we were together in the evening."
During the summer months, she recalled attending jousting tournaments at "nearby Catholic churches which was followed by dinners," she wrote.
Travel was by horse and carriage until her father brought home an automobile, which was the "first automobile in upper Harford County."
Mrs. Endslow recalled her mother and her two aunts dressed in dusters as they took an inaugural ride in the new car.
"We seemed to have so much fun as we took a ride that day. I remember the occasion well, riding through the countryside singing, 'It's a Long Way To Tipperary.' Of course, we attracted a lot of attention. I remember people coming out of their homes to see us pass by," she wrote.
When she began school, it was in a one-room schoolhouse in Fairview that had "outdoor toilets for girls and separate ones for boys. Drinking water came from a pump outside and was kept in the vestibule in a container with a spigot. A pot-bellied coal stove stood in the middle of the room. All seven grades were taught in that one room," Mrs. Endslow recalled in her memoir.
Later, she often rode her horse, Billy, to school, family members said. After graduating from Highland Elementary and High School in 1924, she entered the University of Maryland, College Park on a full academic scholarship.
While at Maryland, from which she graduated in 1928, she met her future husband, Joseph S. Endslow, who was a senior agricultural major. They married in 1930.
Mr. Endslow, a Harford County principal who established the agricultural program at Bel Air High School and was a supervisor at the Maryland Training School for Boys, died in 1974.
In 1944, Mrs. Endslow organized the first school hot-lunch program in Harford County at Bel Air High School.
She began teaching first grade in 1948 at Perry Hall Elementary School and later joined the faculty of Wakefield Elementary School in Bel Air, from which she retired in 1968.
Mrs. Endslow was a General Educational Development counselor at Aberdeen Proving Ground from 1968 to 1976.
Mrs. Endslow joined forces with Eleanor Tydings Ditzen and Mary Streett and founded the Harford County Women's Democratic Club in 1972.
Family members said her political activism dated to 1920 when the announcement was made at the old Harford County Fairgrounds that the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, had passed. It was a few years before she could vote, but for the next 80 years, she never missed the opportunity to do so.
Mrs. Endslow also established the Charter Review Project, training coordinators in each councilmanic district of Harford County to conduct informal precinct-level discussion groups for the purpose of analyzing and evaluating the county's charter document.
She was appointed to the board of the Harford County Commission on Aging by then-County Executive Thomas Barranger. She became the Harford County Nursing Home ombudsman in 1981.
Under Mrs. Endslow's direction, more than 100 volunteers were trained in the Life Support Program that places volunteers in nursing homes throughout the county.
She also founded and coordinated Generations Together, a county volunteer program in Harford County's high schools in partnership with county nursing homes.
In 1991, then-Gov. Harry R. Hughes appointed Mrs. Endslow state and district coordinator for the AARP Vote, and for the next four years, she traveled throughout the nation coordinating AARP Vote programs.
When she was 88, Mrs. Endslow retired because of two bouts of breast cancer and kidney cancer.
She was named a Harford County Living Treasure and in 1993 was the recipient of the GERI Award for Outstanding Maryland Senior Citizen. She was also a member of the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.
"She was always an advocate for something," said a daughter, Katherine E. Pickett of Bel Air.
Regarding her mother's centenarian status, Mrs. Pickett said she enjoyed a glass of wine each evening.
"And as she would say, the glass of wine was for 'medicinal purposes,' " Mrs. Pickett said.
"She never smoked and never exercised," she said. "I think it was her spirit that made her live so long. She wouldn't let things bring her down, had a positive attitude and truly believed that tomorrow would be better."
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Harford County Retired Teachers Association.
She was a longtime member of Union Chapel United Methodist Church in Joppa, where a memorial service was held Saturday.
Also surviving are a son, Joseph S. Endslow of Bel Air; another daughter, Elizabeth E. Coakley of Havre de Grace; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.