News your connection to The Boston Globe

Katharine Kinderman; author, producer had sense of adventure

Katharine Schlesinger Kinderman was the kind of woman who liked to take risks.

''Katharine was sort of the neighborhood tomboy as a little girl," her husband, Thomas Tiffany of Cambridge, said yesterday. ''One afternoon while playing with the boys, she led the way in jumping off the garden wall into the neighbor's backyard. . . . Katharine wasn't (afraid). She jumped first -- always. It was the theme of her life."

Mrs. Kinderman, a writer, producer, and public relations executive who spent her last three years advocating for women with ovarian cancer, died from the disease Saturday at her Cambridge home. She was 62.

The Boston native graduated from the Buckingham School and went to work in the office of the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s. She later served as a community organizer in West Virginia and a Vista volunteer in Kentucky. This past summer she completed a book chronicling her time in Appalachia.

''She was both intrepid and inspiring," said her husband. ''She had an unrivaled ability to bring people together."

Upon returning to Cambridge in 1969, Mrs. Kinderman produced the first women's program on Boston television, at WGBH, called ''In Her Own Right." In 1972, her first marriage to Gibbs Kinderman ended, and she headed west for San Francisco. While en route, she took a detour and decided to stay in Denver, ''where all the movers and shakers were," according to her husband. She worked as a reporter and producer for KRMA-TV, the PBS affiliate there. In 1982 she co-wrote a memoir about the Chinese Cultural Revolution with Ruth E. Lo called ''In the Eye of the Typhoon."

While living in Denver, she completed the college education she had begun at several other schools, graduating from the former Loretto Heights College with a bachelor's degree in mass communications.

For several years, Mrs. Kinderman worked at the former Grant & Pollock Advertising in Denver as the director of public relations before beginning her own firm, The Kinderman Group.

She returned to Cambridge in 1986 to be closer to her mother and started working for the public relations firm of Creamer Dickson & Basford, managing several major accounts, including the Boston Museum of Science and Yankee magazine. Three years later, she reopened The Kinderman Group, promoting various clients including Radcliffe College, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Office for the Arts at Harvard University.

From 1999 to 2002, she served as the vice president of communications for Airpacks Inc., manufacturers of ergonomic backpacks.

Mrs. Kinderman was an athletic woman who enjoyed playing tennis and Scrabble, and cooking.

In 2001, after experiencing severe stomach pains, Mrs. Kinderman was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. She believed her disease would have been caught earlier had her primary care doctor not initially dismissed her complaints as irritable-bowel syndrome.

''My story is not unique," she wrote in a September 2003 Newsweek article, ''The Disease Is Silent. We Don't Have to Be." ''At the hospital where I had my hysterectomy, a majority of women who had ovarian cancer told me they had not been taken seriously by their doctors."

Mrs. Kinderman lectured nationally about the disease. In May, she spoke about the need for early detection to an audience of 4,000 at a San Francisco medical conference.

''My daughter was a fighter who had a lot of spirit," said her mother, Marian Cannon Schlesinger of Cambridge. ''A lot of people in this world have ideas and let them die. She acted on things that she thought were important. She believed in people and new ideas."

On Sept. 12, a dozen years after they began dating, she and Tiffany were married in a small ceremony in the garden of her mother's Cambridge home.

In addition to her mother and husband, Mrs. Kinderman leaves her father, the historian, author, and Kennedy adviser Arthur Schlesinger Jr. of Manhattan, N.Y.; her twin, Stephen Schlesinger of Manhattan; two other brothers, Robert Schlesinger of Washington, D.C., and Andrew Schlesinger of Cambridge; her sister, Christina Schlesinger of East Hampton, N.Y.; her stepmother, Alexandra Schlesinger of Manhattan, N.Y.; and a stepbrother, Peter Allen.

A memorial service will be held on Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m. in Christ Church in Cambridge. Her ashes will be spread in Cambridge and in Denver, where a second memorial service will be held Oct. 30.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives