O'Donnell-Cloud, Kate Dr.

Written by David Green.

Dr. Kate O'Donnell-Cloud, 79, died Nov. 5, 2010, while recovering from major surgery in Bryn Mawr, Pa., where she lived after retiring from the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Mary Kathleen O’Donnell was born in 1931, to Francis and Lillian O'Donnell, the oldest of five children. Her father was the local Morenci Chevrolet and Pontiac dealer from 1929 to 1969.

Kate attended Morenci Elementary School, then went to the Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Mich., and finally to the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Kalamazoo. Many of the sisters in those years were daughters of union members from the Detroit area, and very concerned with social justice. Kate’s lifelong interest began there. She attended Nazareth Academy and Nazareth College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1953.

For several years she taught in Santa Fe, N.M., and New York City, where she married Wallace Cloud in 1958. She moved to Tucson, Ariz., with her three children after the marriage failed in 1968. 

After obtaining a master’s degree in education from the University of Arizona, she joined the University staff, implementing the Head Start Program nationally. She also worked on university programs sponsored by the Agency for International Development to mitigate the effects of a major drought in Africa and became an expert on the roles of women in agriculture and economic development. 

She entered a PhD program at Harvard University and received her Doctorate in Education in 1986 at the age of 55, and accepted a position at the University of Illinois where she headed studies of the roles of women in development.

She consulted for the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Agency for International Development, retiring from the University of Illinois in 2000 at the age of 69.

Kate is survived by her children,  Christopher, a political activist in Tucson; Catherine, a documentary filmmaker; and Daniel, a lecturer in philosophy at Princeton University; her siblings, Tom O’Donnell, Carol Knych and Ellen O’Donnell, all of Tucson, and Patrick O’Donnell, of Rochester Hills, Mich.; and eight nieces and nephews.

Burial services are scheduled at 11 a.m. Dec. 9, at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Fayette, Ohio. A luncheon will follow the service, then her ashes will be interred in Oak Grove Cemetery in Morenci. Friends of the family are invited to attend.

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