Obituary of Kathy Brackenridge
BRACKENRIDGE — Mary Kathryn McDonnell (Kathy), 70, of New Canaan, Connecticut, died peacefully on August 27 at her home in New Canaan, with her beloved daughter Kathryn and husband of 43 years, Gavin, by her side. Born July 8, 1953 to parents Charles E. “Bish” McDonnel and Mary Frances (née Breeding) in Rye, New York, Kathy attended Rye Country Day School, Miss Hall’s School, Bennett College, and the British Institute for Foreign Study in Florence. Upon moving to New York City, she became an art dealer working at Coe Kerr Gallery, Davis & Long and Salander O'Reilly Galleries among others. Her professional career extended 40 years in art and retail, culminating in her 12-year position as a Regional Director at Doyle New York, the auction house and her work as a fine art consultant. Kathy was the most devoted and loving wife, mother, stepmother, and grandmother. She adored her extended family and vast network of great friends spanning from Rye to New York City and East Hampton and New Canaan for whom she was a source of boundless energy, positivity, and support. Kathy showed constant care and interest in everyone in her life and was always shining with the brightest light of her beautiful smile, gleaming eyes, and true love of life.
Kathy’s greatest source of joy and fuel for an almost otherworldly level of stamina was her 2-year- old grandson Bish, named for her dear departed older brother and for whom she cheerfully fought to spend as much time with while she could. Kathy bravely accepted her diagnosis of ALS with remarkable determination to live every remaining moment with appreciation for family, life, laughter and beauty. Her heroic strength of character was an inspiration to all who encountered her. Through years of living with the onset of a mysterious neurological disorder, eventual diagnosis, and course of the inevitably fatal disease, Kathy’s courage and pure heart allowed her to adapt to every progressive setback with never one, single complaint. Ever. Ultimately this inner will defines her being, character, and legacy of a life lived with purpose, intention and goodness.
While the quality of Kathy’s essential ‘faith’ and determination underpinned everything in her life to her last breath, love of ‘pals,’ as she called her friends, silly nicknames and finding fun in the regularity of daily routines was her stamp. She was known for her effortless style, elegance and good taste which was balanced by the perfect dash of ‘kook’ that was singularly sophisticated and just spectacular. She was adored by all and simply adorable.
Kathy was always quick to compliment or put her comedian husband “Guy” in place with a witty, matter-of-fact truth or quip that carried their long and cherished marriage. Upon moving to New Canaan from New York City she dutifully pursued her career and in later years commuted tirelessly on Metro North and the Subway into the City not only to pull her weight but perhaps quite simply because she could not just sit still. And while a New Yorker by birth and blood, Kathy loved skiing out west and encouraged her daughter to explore and start her life in the Tetons. As one close friend notes, “she always laughed and was known for her iconic red nails, trinkets and love of nice things. And she wasn’t afraid to work for them either.” She was a gloriously magical grandmother, known as Kacky, to all four of her “boys” three of whom born to her dearest stepdaughter Kirsten, and a favorite aunt and surrogate mom to many making “Mother Mary Kathryn” (for which she was known by some) inimitable to all her ‘children.’ Tradition and family heritage were of the utmost importance to Kathy and she honored them daily.
She is survived by her husband, Gavin; a daughter, Kathryn Brackenridge, her partner Thomas W. “Tuck” Fauntleroy III and their son Thomas W. “Bish” Fauntleroy of Jackson, Wyoming, beloved stepdaughter Kirsten McCallum and her sons Gavin, George and Charles Whitney “Whit” of Darien, Connecticut, Sister Margaret “Margot” and brother-in-law Dean Genge of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and their sons William and Tyler; sisters-in-law Mary McDonnell of Greenwich and Belinda Brackenridge of Manhattan; her niece Megan Boyle of Bermuda and nephews Charles E. “Bish” McDonnell III of Greenwich and Gavin Wiesen of Manhattan and in-lawed members of the Scheerer Family. Kathy is preceded by her father Charles E. “Bish” McDonnell, mother Mary Frances and brother Charles E. “Bish” McDonnell Jr.
Kathy’s life will be celebrated with a visitation on Tuesday, September 5, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. at Graham Funeral Home in Rye, New York followed by a Mass of Christian Burial held Wednesday, September 6 at 11:00 a.m. at The Church of the Resurrection in Rye, New York. The Mass was livestreamed for those were unable to attend in person. To view the livestream, please click here. She will be laid to rest at Greenwood Union Cemetery next to her mother, father and brother. Donations in Kathy’s honor may be made to her ALS advocacy organization, Compassionate Care ALS (CCALS.org | PO Box 1052 West Falmouth, Ma. 02574.
In Loving Memory
1953 - 2023
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