Beekeeper, stepmother, mentor. Born on Dec. 3, 1943, in Kingston, Ont.; died on Feb. 19, 2014, in Kingston, from ovarian cancer, aged 70.
Kathy Kingsley was born in 1943 in Kingston, although her family was living on nearby Wolfe Island at the time. Her father, Wilfred, was a beekeeper, as was his father before him. For Kathy and her two brothers, hard work was part of life on the island, situated at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
From the age of 10, she spent her summers working at vacation resorts north of Kingston. In her late teens, she started work as a clerk at Alcan Aluminum in Kingston. With her vivacious personality, she wasn’t shy about striking up conversations with all the workers at the plant.
One gentleman in particular caught her eye. Donald MacRow was a recently widowed father of two young children and Kathy, then 21, knew a good man when she saw one. Despite their 12-year age difference, the two began dating. As their conversations turned to marriage, Don was concerned that taking on a young family might be a bit much for her. Kathy’s response: “You keep flowers on the table, I will keep cookies in the jar.”
When they married in 1966, daughter Jeanine was 11 and son Kevan was 8. Kathy was a fairly strict parent, but helped the children with their homework and always attended their sporting events or any public speaking events in which they took part. She also sewed clothes for Jeanine and outfits for Kevan’s G.I. Joe (something he still marvels at).
Kathy approached life at full throttle. When she and Donald built an addition to their home, she helped put the cinder blocks in place. She helped the Township of Kingston in naming streets, and was rewarded with one roadway being named after her. She also wrote chapters for two books about local history: 1982’s County of a Thousand Lakes, about Frontenac County, and History of the Township of Kingston (1985).
At one point, Kathy decided to map the genealogy of the Kingsley and MacRow families. Before she decided that enough was enough she had traced back several thousand ancestors not only for her family, but also for several other families.
In the late 1990s, she turned her attention to beekeeping. She graduated from the beekeeping course at a local college, and this would remain her passion until her death. She and Don had 50 hives and Kathy produced clover, sunflower and buckwheat honey each year. She also made beeswax candles and Christmas ornaments and put together gift packages to sell at craft fairs. Her knowledge of bees was respected in the bee community; she helped to mentor other beekeepers in the area, organized bee lectures and judged honey contests.
Late in 2011, Kathy learned she had cancer. She battled through the treatments with her usual good humour and it went into remission. But in December, 2013, she found that the cancer had returned.
Her family and friends miss her deeply, but we know she is flying with her bees. And Don still keeps flowers on the table for his beloved Kathy.
Kim Clark is Kathy’s daughter-in-law.