Farrell, Kathy Rose (nee Lindroth)

Farrell, Kathy Rose (nee Lindroth)

August 13, 1949 – November 5, 2015
Age 66 of White Bear Lake. Kathleen Marie Farrell was born in New Jersey on October 26, 1927 to James and Kathryn Farrell of Hoboken, New Jersey. She had one half-brother, Jack,  who preceded her in death in 2015. She passed away on February 27th, 2015, in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Kathleen lived with her family in New Jersey until she was 8 years old and had fond memories of a summer house in the country, silent movies whereby her mom would pack cheese sandwiches, Italian olives and sodas in newspapers. She recalled her mother standing up one time in a theatre to pledge allegiance to the flag and sing the Star Spangled Banner as loudly as she could. The rest of the audience eventually stood up too. She also told stories of her imaginary friend Fallen Arches, a term she heard her mom use on a daily basis to describe the repercussions of long hard hours of factory work on her feet. She never knew what the words meant. Her dad was a trucker and one of the first to fight for labor unions and enough wages to support his family with his fists. They were Scotch Irish stock, hardworking, and determined to make a life. From age 8 to18 years herself and her brother were placed in a convent in upstate New York by their parents. Polio and other diseases were rampant in her families neighborhood. Quarantine notices were on every other door. Her playground was a small landing on the fire escape. She talked about this often in later life. Many parents of the era believed the orphanages were a safer place for their children then the neighborhoods. She missed her family a lot and rarely received visits from her mother. Holidays were with the nuns. She was very spiritual, and thought of becoming a nun herself one day. While a young girl of twelve in the convent though the nuns recognized her gift. And they gave her the assignment of teaching younger children reading and writing. She loved the kids and enjoyed books. She was a teacher at the orphanage from age12 to 18. And she excelled at it. At 18 she got on a bus to join the U. S. Army. Kathleen met and eventually married James Edward Henning from St. Cloud, Minnesota who was also in the army in Washington D. C. and working in the same unit of intelligence decoding messages. They both loved the army, and Kathleen had recently been selected for Officers Candidate School before meeting him. She chose to move to Minnesota and marry though, and went on for her degree in education, often later regretting not continuing on to Officers Training School because she loved the army life so much. She earned her Elementary Ed degree at St. Cloud State, taught in the heart of the inner city of Minneapolis St. Paul. She loved those kids and talked about her experiences with them often. At 38 the family moved to St. Cloud so she could pursue a college teaching career in Children’s Literature and Reading Education and her husband could work with District 742 as Special Education Administrator. Kathleen taught at St. Cloud State until her retirement, and received many high achievement letters and awards throughout her academic and teaching career. She was mentor and friend to hundreds of students and faculty members and staff. She loved having lunch on campus, with the janitor Betty and Carla the secretary in the ed building at the time. She still received cards and notes of gratitude for her guidance long after her career was over. Kathleen had one daughter, Beth Henning of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Her marriage dissolved unexpectedly to her after 28 years. And since she loved her life, family and friends, that was all hard. In her opinion she had a great life. There was travel, partnership, living on a beautiful lake, and many large family affairs, and friendships. Kathleen loved family, being hostess to her daughter’s childhood slumber parties and treasure hunts with groups of friends, as well as the kids fondue parties, whether with cousins, in-laws for holidays or just for fun. Holiday gatherings were always at Kathleen’s, and she made them spectacular. All the kids adored her whether they were nieces, nephews or friends from school. She deeply loved, her then sister-in-law, Betty. Their kids went back and forth from each other’s houses, playing long hours of Barbie dolls and watching Alfred Hitchcock movies in living room forts. The art museum adventures were amazing. And don’t forget the vacation road-trips Kathleen would plan that always included a friend or cousin, with many lively unexpected adventures through Canada, Mackinac Island, Disneyland and Mexico, just to name a few. Kathleen had two grandchildren, Zach and Ayriel Steffes, who she adored in so many ways, and was always inspired to guide them to literature and education. She read books, took them to libraries, encouraged their creative thinking and curiosities, There was Disneyland, violin lessons, halloween costume making — the shark one was pretty impressive– birthday cakes, swim parties at the Holiday Inn, new bicycles — she never learned to ride one– and many holidays together. There were the school concerts, and the fourth of Julys at her apartment on the Mississippi River. She played basketball and attempted a few other physical moves,with her grandchildren that I won’t go on to mention. But we all recall them now and can smile. Zach and Ayriel were the biggest part of her life in retirement. She worried, loved, and wanted the best of what life could offer for them. We have great memories of the beach umbrellas she would hammer into the San Diego sands, only to turn our heads to see them rolling down the shoreline, barely avoiding the people in its path. Kathleen moved to San Diego California soon after she retired at 59.5 and took smart measures to place herself within walking distance of anything she might need, including an ocean boardwalk, where she walked every morning until she could do it no more. She joined the WACs groups and volunteered. She took classes at UCLA, made her best friends at the oceanfront McDonald’s where she arrived every morning for 20 years at 4:00 a.m. Senior coffee was even cheaper then. Her studio apartment rents were outrageous, but that was ok. It was only a place to bunk. She loved black and white movies, politics, Murder She Wrote, a good detective story, and small containers of marshmallows, cheesy goldfish, pretzels, chocolates, oreo cookies and Roma pizza … which she burned every single time she made it. Kathleen enjoyed a great martini oceanside, or anywhere for that matter, spaghetti, lemon meringue pie, and the breadsticks from Ciatti’s… which was actually the last meal she enjoyed before she packed herself for the journey of whatever comes after life on Earth is over. She talked about that a lot the last few years, and I’m quite sure that is the way she would like it expressed now. The last six months of her life an angel named Pat Kleindl stepped up to tend her in her home like she would her own mom. Pat had long time nursing aid skills. No nursing homes, medications, excess doctor visits, or isolation was allowed to haunt her last days, the way her early childhood separated her from her parents and brother. It couldn’t be allowed, no matter how time consuming the daily cares became, or how heavy her limbs were when they moved very little without help. She would be with family or with them close at hand for daily visits. That was the right thing. Kathleen didn’t believe in doctors, a glass of Merlot or a Hot Toddy was her own parents way of curing most ailments. They were curing in their kitchen a lot as I recall. She recommended the cure to every VA nurse she met, or should I say… to everyone anywhere. She didn’t believe in being burdensome, she thought everyone should do their own thing and follow their own drummer… and for that she has been an inspiring mentor for generations to come. She also believed in going for walks, eating healthy food and getting plenty of rest. Her health lasted for a very long time because of it. She was ready to pass several months before she did but then, she heard the news of a great grandchild on the way. And although Kathleen never got to meet her in person, when she saw the birth pictures sent on that child’s birth day from the hospital, it was obvious she seemed a bit freed up. She breathed better. Charlotte was healthy, beautiful and born into a family that would love and protect her… she knew she would not be around to watch that happen for long, but she was there for her arrival and to make sure it had all gone well. The baby was safe. Her eyes twinkled, her smile reached across the universe and back when she looked at that little girl that day. So awesome to witness and now recall. That was the same way she looked when her own grandchildren were presented in her arms many years before. And her own daughter too, I’m sure. Everything would somehow be in the right order now. Two days later Kathleen died, after a great plate of spaghetti, a small Coors beer, watching Family Feud and probably fiddling with the clicker to find a Clark Gable movie… another later-in-life favorite. Remotes are too complicated for 87 year olds frankly. Or anyone over fifty for that matter. As she waited for her lemon pie and hot coffee, the ending of life as we know it circled round her and retrieved her through her last breath, an ending celebration of a genuinely good person’s life well lived. It was time for Micky Farrell to say goodbye. It was quick, and painless for her, and shocking and unexpected to the rest of us, even though all the signs had started months before. Kathleen donated her body to the Anatomy Bequest Program at the University of Minnesota so the students of medicine could continue their research and become skillful physicians and researchers.Their representatives arrived the same night, and handled the affair and passing with eloquence. Thank you. The ceremony for this year’s donor families is November 10th at Northrup Auditorium. A small group of family and friends will have dinner beforehand and attend. First responder Kathy Weber thank you. We are glad that it was you with her at that moment. To the detectives and law enforcement on the scene, it was a long, emotional night. There were fire trucks, five cop cars and at least one ambulance. Thank you for tastefully doing what you needed to and then escorting yourselves out. To the detective and sergeant who stayed with us — and the K9 waiting patiently like a good boy in the car for four hours, we are grateful. The stories we shared were real. That was important to begin the healing process for those of us on sight. Kathleen’s immediate family was small. Her brother and parents preceded her in death. Her father was an orphan; there are no family records. Her grandparents lived in Ireland. Their last names were Hyland and Rierdon. That’s all I ever knew. She leaves behind one daughter, two grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter, and their families, and one son-in-law. The order is as follows: Beth Henning-Steffes, St. Cloud, Minnesota; Zach Steffes, Jennifer Hacker-Steffes, Charlotte Jo, Haydenville, California; Ayriel Steffes and Steven Henningsgard St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Jim Steffes, St. Cloud Minnesota. Tuesday November 10th at 7:00 p.m., if you knew Kathleen, please raise your glass in celebration, or close your eyes peacefully …. to acknowledge one of the kindest most genuine persons you could have ever known or met. She was always herself. It was an honor to have in our lives however we did whether teacher, auntie, friend, grandma, mother, mother-in-law, or great grandma. She was something special. Bye bye mom. See you at the cabin. (Published in the St. Cloud Times on Nov. 10, 2015)