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Mom's courage set example for family

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Kathryn McFarland, retired emergency room employee at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant

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By Bill Zlatos

Published: Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 10:48 p.m.

Kathryn McFarland arrived at the scene of a standoff when her son “Mac,” a Mt. Pleasant police officer, talked a man into giving up his gun.

“My mother said she went there because my brother might need backup,” recalled her daughter, Susan McFarland Bandini of Dunlevy in Washington County, editor of the Greensburg edition of the Tribune-Review. It was a classic example of Mrs. McFarland's spunk, family said.

Kathryn L. McFarland, formerly of Mt. Pleasant, died of congestive heart failure on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, at Hempfield Manor in Greensburg. She was 89.

She was born Nov. 28, 1924, to William and Laura Belle Patton Jones McFarland. Her father was a yardmaster for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and her mother, a homemaker. A sign outside the family's house during the Great Depression said that they would feed anyone who came to the door.

A graduate of the former Youngwood High School, she met her future husband, Howell T. McFarland Jr., at Robertshaw Controls, where they were working. They were married in 1948.

Though only about 5 feet tall, Mrs. McFarland was the disciplinarian of the family. Having learned about football when her son was playing the game, she developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport. She and her husband sometimes attended a high school football game on Friday, a University of Pittsburgh football game on Saturday and a Steelers game on Sunday.

Her husband died of a heart attack on Christmas Day in 1981. He was 58. Her son, Howell “Mac” McFarland III, died of kidney disease in 2001 when he was 51.

“She could have spent the rest of her life feeling sorry for herself,” Bandini said. “After my dad died, my mother fulfilled the dream she never got to live with my dad.”

Her parents had always dreamed of traveling, and Mrs. McFarland eventually visited London, Hawaii and her favorite spot, Paris.

Bandini and her mother visited Westminster Abbey on Remembrance Day, the British equivalent of Veterans Day. She was mistakenly ushered to sit with women who had lost husbands during the war.

“I just said, ‘Mom, don't talk, and they'll just never know you're not a British war widow,' ” Bandini said.

Her daughter-in-law, Betsy McFarland of Youngwood, marveled at how Mrs. McFarland rebounded after her husband's death. She got a job in the emergency department of Frick Hospital.

“She was stronger than I ever imagined she would be,” Betsy McFarland said. “She had never worked outside the home at that point.”

In addition to her husband and son, she was preceded in death by her brother, Allen L. Jones. In addition to her daughter and daughter-in-law, survivors include her sister, Nancy Delserone of Woodinville, Wash.

Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in Galone-Caruso Funeral Home, 204 Eagle St., Mt. Pleasant. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the funeral home, with the Rev. Randy Landman officiating. Interment will be in Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or



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