Obituary: Kathleen Toole / Fox Chapel council member with passion for nature

Oct. 25, 1944 - April 9, 2014

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Kathleen Toole's legacy can be found, not only in the children she raised and the lives she touched but also in the trees and greenspaces of Fox Chapel.

Ms. Toole, a member of the Fox Chapel council since 2006 and longtime resident of the borough, died Wednesday of complications from a stroke. She was 69.

Nate Parker, the former Fox Chapel borough president, called Ms. Toole a gifted public servant with a passion for maintaining the town's natural beauty.

"She'd put in an enormous amount of time on the environmental protection group," said Mr. Parker, who encouraged her to run for council. "She was a bright, educated, Wharton graduate, with a quick, incisive mind. I just thought she'd be excellent."

Ms. Toole spent the first 22 years of her life in Philadelphia. She was a talented youth pianist, and decades later would still impress friends and family by playing difficult Rachmaninoff compositions.

When Ms. Toole was 16, she was accepted to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, at a time when almost no women were attending the school.

After graduation in 1964, Ms. Toole married Robert Satterfield, a Columbia University graduate who died in Vietnam when a helicopter he was piloting was shot down. Ms. Toole and their daughter, Shannon, moved to Aspinwall to be near his family after her husband's death.

There, Ms. Toole met the man who would become her husband of 40 years, Walter "Bud" Toole, a businessman who had four children from a previous marriage. The two bonded over racquet sports and golf, married in 1974 and had two children together.

The entire family, including Mr. Toole's children from Florida, spent every summer at Chautauqua Lake in New York, where her mother enjoyed nature walks, boat rides, and the artistic and religious community of Chautauqua Institution.

Ms. Toole's daughter Elizabeth Reed Loughrey said that wherever her mother went, she took an active role in bringing her passions to others and also supporting others in their interests. She was an avid gardener, so she joined the Fox Chapel Garden Club, where she was a treasurer for more than 10 years.

She loved to golf, so she joined the Pittsburgh Field Club, and she, her husband, and several other couples traveled to Ireland in 1979 to golf and to tour the countryside.

When her daughters were enrolled at Fox Chapel Country Day School, Ms. Toole worked there as a volunteer, and once her children got older, Ms. Toole took a position there as a business manager.

According to her husband, Ms. Toole spread her love for the natural world to the children at the school.

"She used to take the kids from the school through the Trillium Trail, and she could tell any flower by the leaf, and would try to teach these kids what the flowers were," Mr. Toole said.

Fox Chapel Mayor Alex Scott worked with Ms. Toole when she served on the environmental advisory committee, a position she held from 1985 to 2006. Mr. Scott described her as one of the leaders on the committee.

"Everybody relied on her because she had a great knowledge of trees and landscape," Mr. Scott said. "She was very knowledgeable in her work for the borough, but also treated people with great respect."

In addition to her husband, Ms. Toole is survived by her children, Karen Kennedy Toole of Santa Cruz, Calif., Helen Louise Tracy of Miami Shores, Fla., Patricia Ann Dudzic of Denver, Shannon Hayes Satterfield of San Francisco, Katherine Douglas Doane of Colorado Springs, Colo., Elizabeth Reed Loughrey of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Michael O'Brien Toole of Fox Chapel; her brother, Robert T. Shannon, Jr., of Philadelphia; and 14 grandchildren.

A wake will be held from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. today at Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home, 100 Center Avenue in Aspinwall. Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Scholastica Church, Aspinwall. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor, 1028 Benton Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

Brett Sholtis: bsholtis@post-gazette.com

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