Kathryn Roberta McSpadden was born to Elzie Robert and Kathryn McKee (Welton) McSpadden on July 24, 1922, in Kansas City, MO. She was the second of 4 children: Virginia, Kathryn, Franklin and Elizabeth. The family spent some time in Colorado, California, and Arizona, due to mother’s health, though they often traveled without their father, because his position on the railroad as a mail clerk. Kathryn had many wonderful memories of her childhood.
Named for her parents, Kathryn was known as Berta to her siblings. She loved rollerskating and talked of camping trips, adventures with animals and friends, and school years. She graduated high-school in Colorado Springs, CO, and continued to a short stint at junior college in Kansas City, MO (which she didn’t like, AT ALL ) before attending a year of business school.
Kathryn worked at a bank and at Montgomery Ward for a time, then was recruited by Pratt & Whitney (maker of airplane engines during the war effort) where she tallied time cards. When she talked of those days, she recalled taking the bus and trolley back and forth to work and wearing a uniform of safety shoes and denim overalls. She also spoke of 4 women – Nell, Theda, Wilma, and Alice - who became lifelong friends and changed the course of her life. At Pratt & Whitney, she and a friend imitated a Bob Hope radio comedy act featuring “Brenda and Cobina” and friends started to call her Brenda. The name stuck, and she was known as Brenda for the rest of her life (even by her husband). Her friend Nell was dating a young sailor from Sun City who happened to have a soldier brother. They met and the rest is history.
Kathryn and Max McLain were married on January 5, 1947 at the home where she was born. They moved to Western Kansas to work on an aunt’s family farm and after a few years returned to Sun City to work with Max’s family and start their own farm operation. Max and Kathryn traveled regularly and took thousands of pictures of the landscape, clouds, animals, and family. You could count on Kathryn to have a camera in her bag. Max and Kathryn were married for 52 years, until Max passed in June 1999.
Dennis Frank McLain was born in March 1949, and Thomas Glen McLain was born in July 1956. Dennis never married and, due to some health problems, lived with Kathryn until he passed in December 2009.
Tom married Melanie Beck of Leesburg, Florida in 1976 and gave Kathryn 4 grandchildren: Tara McLain, Rachel (Stephen) Elliott, Olivia (Seth) Crow, and David Max (Amber) McLain. At the end of her life, Kathryn had 9 great-grandchildren: Andrew, Sophia, Alyvia, and Emma Elliott; Ruby, Ezekiel, Cyrus, and Revere Crow; and Remington McLain.
Kathryn was interested in everything – trains, birds, flowers, gardening, sewing, ancestry. She collected newspaper clippings and calendar pages, poems and quotations, and rocks. Nearly every time she returned from anywhere, she had a rock to add to her collection. She read thousands of books of all kinds. Every day included crossword and word find puzzles, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy - and until the last 10 years, she could typically question most of the answers. And every Tuesday night since 2003 was reserved for NCIS. She adored Will Rogers and read extensively on his life. And she had fond memories of movies by Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, James Stewart, Deanna Durbin, and to her grandchildren’s delight – The Jason Bourne Trilogy. Over the years, Kathryn covered thousands of miles with her friend Imogene on their morning walks. And she stopped at every garage sale she came across, collecting treasures and pretty things along the way.
Kathryn Roberta McSpadden McLain, age 98, passed away peacefully in her home on August 1, 2020. She is survived by her sister, Elizabeth Liston; her son, Thomas McLain; 4 grandchildren; and 9 great grandchildren. She was a farm wife and a land owner. She was a friend, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was a generous soul with kind words and a full heart. She will be missed.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, August 7, at First Christian Church in Medicine Lodge, KS. She will be buried next to her husband, Max, at Sunnyside Cemetery in Sun City, KS.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts be given to the Lincoln Library, in Medicine Lodge, where she spent many happy hours.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kathryn "Brenda" McLain, please visit our floral store.
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