Mott—Kathryn Hardin Mott, 98, on January 22, 2020, peacefully, a week before her 99th birthday, at Kendal at Longwood, a continuing care retirement community in Kennett Square, Pa. Kay was born in Chicago, Ill., on January 30, 1921. Raised as a Methodist in a church led by noted pacifist theologian Ernest Tittle, Kay was introduced to Friends at Oberlin College in Ohio by her lifelong best friend (and Friend), Marion Darnell Fuson. Kay was a full-scholarship student and achieved Phi Beta Kappa her junior year. She remained at Oberlin to earn a master’s in history while working at the food co-op. Some years later Kay obtained a master’s in elementary education from Columbia Teachers College and went on to tutor children with special needs.
Upon leaving Oberlin, Kay returned home to Evanston, Ill., to manage a food co-op. She moved to Sante Fe, N.M., to help at her aunt’s guest ranch, where she met her husband, John Colman Mott. During wartime 1944, they discovered shared interests in pacifism, civil rights, and history. After a three-month courtship, they married in July 1944 and moved to New York City, N.Y., where John worked as an investment analyst. By 1948, they had settled in Ridgewood, N.J. Apart from a brief 1955–57 interlude in Rochester, N.Y., Ridgewood and nextdoor Ho-Ho-Kus was their home until the mid-1980s.
John and Kay’s spiritual search led them to become convinced Friends. They helped start Ridgewood Meeting. Friends meetings were central to their life in Ridgewood and Rochester, and later in Orlando, Fla., and at Kendal. Also central was a lifelong commitment to volunteering for community issues and politics. Kay worked for fair housing, and helped start a Black-owned housing co-op and an integrated neighborhood preschool. She served as PTA president to work toward equity within the school. Kay led two interracial and innovative Girl Scout troops. John and Kay supported their son, Jeremy Hardin Mott, in his journey from conscientious objector to draft resister. They faithfully traveled to visit him at three different federal prisons.
They had four children: Jeremy (born December 1945), Margaret (“Margy,” born October 1949), Jessica (born January 1954), and Bethany (born January 1957). Kay built gardening and music into the lives of her young family and pursued these passions throughout her life.
Kay lived her beliefs and values through action. She was very active in building the Quaker community, serving on committees in monthly and yearly meetings and for Friends General Conference (particularly religious education). John and Kay moved to Kendal at Longwood, another Quaker community, in January 1987. She continued to garden and engage in music. Kay enjoyed making financial contributions to a wide range of nonprofits, including a variety of Quaker organizations. She was a member and regular participant of Kendal Meeting.
Even as Kay’s physical and mental capacity diminished, her tenacity and can-do attitude remained. Despite frustrations, she doggedly tried to do whatever she could (and some things she couldn’t). She always had a smile on her face. Kay loved to be useful and offered help to others, while grateful for the help she received. Hers was a life well-lived.
Kay’s husband, John, died in 2004; and son, Jeremy, in 2012. Kay is survived by three children, Margaret “Margy” Mott, Jessica Mott (Keith Oberg), and Bethany Mott (David Pratt); a daughter-in-law, Judith Mott; five grandchildren; and one great grandchild.